Golden Record: Take Two

Safiyah Cheatam
2 min readFeb 28, 2022


Voyager 3 (Signs and Symbols Aliens Should Know and Understand) (2017) by Suldano Abdiruhman

Suldano Abdiruhman is a Somali-American, Philadelphia-based design and textile artist. As the great-granddaughter of weavers and artists, Abdiruhman uses the freedom of fibers to be inclusive of all of her interdisciplinary interests including sculpture, painting, and performance. Inspired by the use of textiles and language as universal communicators, she takes on an anthropological approach to understanding cultures through these indicators of time and history.

In this same vein, her playful take on extraterrestrial first contact Voyager 3 (Signs and Symbols Aliens Should Know and Understand) (2017) identifies a series of (inter)nationally recognized symbols and images alien life may encounter while on Earth. Existing in three part–an ink on canvas drawing, booklet, and iPod–this piece traces back to her background in graphic design and current interest in language and symbolism. Abdiruhman’s hand-drawn images coupled with extensive text emphasizes the banality, yet intricacies of language. She crafts a simple and humorous warm welcome or “invitation to dinner” for aliens.

Close Up. Ink on Canvas painting.

Rethinking NASA’s 1977 Voyager 1 & 2 expeditions, Abdiruhman seeks to ask “What would the Golden Record look and sound like curated by me?” Within the realm of science fiction, she touches on the afrofuturist idea of seeking freedom from society’s long-standing oppression of Black and Brown people through the possibility of life on another planet. She invites her audience to think about diversification within STEM fields as well as question their own encapsulated delivery of a worldview. How can one take on the impossible and profound task of distilling the human experience into a series of sounds and images?

Close up. Accompanying booklet and iPod.


Abdiruhman, S. (2019, April 27). Personal interview.

Abdiruhman, Suldano. Voyager 3 (Signs and Symbols Aliens Should Know and Understand) (2017). Ink on canvas, booklet, iPod. Private collection.

See more of her work at



Safiyah Cheatam

Baltimore-based conceptual visual artist, digital storyteller, and sci-fi enthusiast, using the lens/theory of mundane Afrofuturism to guide her works.