“His murals, with their images of blazing suns, pyramids, comets and planetary bodies painted on the walls of black homes all over [Chicago’s] South Side, were about a future that he, by way of Sun Ra, was reaching his hand out to take [Black people] to. Commissioned from the early 1960s through the beginning of the 1970s, the murals were backdrop to house parties, birthdays, heated arguments, fucking, heartache and life. … Oddly, despite their placement in domestic spaces, the photos of the murals are devoid of people. Perhaps Aton—or whoever shot them—was too focused on documenting the walls of the houses he painted in to be bothered with their inhabitants. … Perhaps the owners were just out of the frame watching him work, beers in hand, proud of their rootedness, arrival and factness that interior decoration implied, Aton’s murals a confirmation of the world they had already imagined for themselves. Or perhaps they had just left Aton alone while he documented his handiwork; too busy living in the future had had painted to pose in front of it.”

— Glenn Ligon, “Sound and Vision,” Sun Ra + Ayé Aton: Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972 (Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, 2013)

“These photographs [of Ayé’s murals] have their own special power. Boasting the saturated colors of commercially printed photographs of the 1970s, Aton’s compositions are pushed into a supercharged state, pulsing little windows into a fabulous, alien world secreted away in a living room or bedroom or dining room. Certain images are completely disorienting. … Other images have subtle hints at architecture: a corner where walls meet ceiling. Some find the domestic scene intruding in a charming, surreal way: a chandelier dipping down in front of a mystical goat’s head, a light switch mapping a rectangle onto a green abstraction, or a doorway leading through one mural into a closet, where another mural lurks amid someone’s clothes. … [After joining the Arkestra ca. 1971], Aton lived in [Saturn] house, to which he contributed several murals: one in saxophonist Marshall Allen’s room, one on the ceiling in John Gilmore’s room, and a very special one in Ra’s room. He also painted backdrops for the Arkestra, which were used in live performance settings.”

— John Corbett, “Sound and Vision,” Sun Ra + Ayé Aton: Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972 (Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, 2013)

All artwork ©2021 The Estate of Ayé Aton. All rights reserved. No print reproduction of works permitted without consent. Any online reproduction of works requires full attribution.