The details of the past, no matter how significant, can fade and be lost to time. Carlotta Walls Lanier, one of the Little Rock Nine who regularly speaks to young students about her experiences, wrote that she is often asked questions like, "Why haven't I learned this in school before now?" It is a good question. I hope The Surface of the Sky will inspire the students who perform it, and the audiences who hear it, to learn more about the achievements of the Little Rock Nine and to discover more about the sacrifices made by all those who have fought against racism and injustice across our country. Learning more about our past will help us be kinder and more compassionate to those whose lives and struggles we do not yet understand. While hate and anger may make us feel strong, they do not actually make us strong. True strength lies in understanding and kindness, and it always will. —Blake Tyson
The Surface of the Sky was commissioned by the University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts and Communication. It is part of a project commemorating the events at Little Rock Central High School entitled "Imagine If Buildings Could Talk: Mapping the History of Little Rock's Central High School.” The piece will be used as the soundtrack for a large-scale projection mapping, created by a team led by UCA professor Scott Meador, on the front of Central High during the weekend of the 60th Anniversary of the school’s desegregation. The project is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the National Park Service, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, and the Arkansas Arts Council. Special thanks to Dr. Gayle Seymour for her tireless leadership of the project.