The Greenwood Art Project invites the public to view and participate in the first two installations by its commissioned artists. On March 31, Katherine Mitchell’s “Greenwood … A Trilogy in Reflection” will be open at the Vernon AME Church, 311 N. Greenwood Ave., from noon to 6 p.m. Then on April 4, Yielbonzie Johnson will present “Lives on the Line – a Greenwood Arts Project” at the Church of the Restoration, 1314 N. Greenwood Ave., from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. A program is scheduled for 2 p.m.
“Ever since it was announced that Tulsa was a winner in the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 Public Art Challenge, we have been planning and working toward this day,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum. “From our Call to Artists in the summer of 2019, to the selection of artists in the summer of 2020, to the spring of 2021, when the artists have prepared their works for exhibition, we invite the Tulsa community to participate in this event. One hundred years after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the Greenwood Art Project is advancing healing in our community through art.”
“Greenwood … A Trilogy in Reflection,” is a site-specific installation made up of three tondo-shaped metal sculptures mounted inside the Vernon AME Church. The first tondo depicts the health, wealth, and stability of Greenwood. The second tondo represents the community’s distress, death of citizens and destruction as a result of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The third tondo reveals how the strength of the tree symbolized throughout the pieces reflects Greenwood’s autonomy, fragility and resilience.
With a master’s degree in business management, Katherine Mitchell has taught at both Tulsa Community College and Southern Nazarene University. She also studied jewelry making at TCC and has turned her talent for handcrafted jewelry into her own small business, Beads Please LLC, selling her creations through shows, private events, exhibits and local shops. She offers a diverse collection of unique pieces incorporating metals, wire, beads, gemstones, leather and other natural materials obtained locally and globally.
The “Lives on the Line” project, headed by Yielbonzie Johnson, seeks to create and map out memory sites in Greenwood. The 1314 N. Greenwood Ave. location will consist of various custom-made artworks addressing the 1921 Tulsa massacre, Black Wall Street and symbols of resistance. A procession will also take place during the reception inviting the public and local businesses to create their own memory sites as a way to illuminate “the section line,” a once thriving business district of Greenwood.
With a master’s degree in divinity, Yielbonzie Johnson, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, organized the Church of the Restoration, where he will present his project. A native of Tulsa, Johnson was born at the Moton Memorial Hospital a few blocks away.
For more than 30 years, Johnson worked in a variety of contexts and cities organizing and teaching worship arts and promoting art as an essential component of healthy and liberating communities. In 2013, he retired from active ministry and returned to Tulsa, devoting himself to his artistic practice which includes photography, mixed media visual art, and 3-D art in clay and wood. Guided by immersion in African Traditional Religion, he seeks through word and image to make the invisible visible and tangible.
The Greenwood Art Project is an initiative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. Tulsa was awarded $1 million in 2019 from Bloomberg Philanthropies as a winning city in the foundation’s Public Art Challenge. The George Kaiser Family Foundation also has contributed $200,000 to the Greenwood Art Project.
The Greenwood Art Project, led by artists Rick Lowe and William Cordova with Jerica Wortham, Marlon Hall, Jeff Van Hanken and Kode Ransom, seeks to raise awareness of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and destruction of its thriving Black community in the historic Greenwood District that included Black Wall Street, one of the most prominent Black-owned business districts in the United States during the early 1900s. The Greenwood Art Project also celebrates the resilience, healing and recovery of the community, with new resonance in today’s challenging times.
Greenwood Art Project artists were chosen in 2020, and the commissioned artists are preparing their works for display during the next few months. For details about the Greenwood Art Project, visit www.greenwoodartproject.org/about and follow social media on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greenwoodartproject and Instagram at www.instagram.com/greenwood.art.project
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube , Twitter and TikTok.