New Exhibit Explores California Dystopia Through Books, Art

Events and Exhibitions

The USC Libraries created an exhibition of Special Collections materials along with paintings by Jessica Bellamy, a master’s degree candidate at USC’s Roski School of Art and Design, to accompany an upcoming USC Visions & Voices event. The event, California Dystopia: Understanding Climate Change and Social Collapse through Science Fiction, will feature an interdisciplinary panel of speakers and an immersive digital work on various social and environmental visions of California’s future. Read the event’s full description and RSVP on the California Dystopia Visions & Voices page.

The accompanying California Dystopia exhibit features Special Collections holdings relating to various dystopian authors, including first edition books and letters by Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury, and Kim Stanley Robinson, along with a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Another part of the display shows unique artists’ books about the effects of climate change by Julie Chen and Barbara Milman. Lastly, the display uses primary sources from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires to examine one of the central questions of the California Dystopia panel: how do social and environmental distress amplify each other?

Jessica Bellamy contributed two of her paintings to the California Dystopia display. Bellamy encapsulates some of California Dystopia’s central themes in her artist statement: “Through a critical and loving approach, Bellamy examines the phenomenological experience of the California landscape and proposes that we reimagine our relationship to the environment and examine the social structures that strain it.”

The California Dystopia exhibition is on display in the Special Collections hallway on the second floor of Doheny Memorial Library. The space where the exhibit is on display (outside of DML 206) is currently accessible from 1pm to 5pm, Monday through Friday. The California Dystopia exhibit—curated by Bo Doub, accessioning archivist for the USC Libraries—will be up until March 16, 2022.