Tulsa, Oklahoma has been named a winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 Public Art Challenge, and will receive $1 million for an exhibition titled “The Greenwood Art Project.” The show will include a group of temporary public artworks commemorating Black Wall Street, an area in the city’s Greenwood neighborhood that was home to many African-American-owned businesses in the early 20th century.
Black Wall Street was the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, in which a white mob burned black-owned businesses and homes, killing more than 300 people. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is a partner on “The Greenwood Art Project.”
For the exhibition, artist Rick Lowe, the founder of the nonprofit Project Row Houses, will work with local artists to chronicle the neighborhood’s history through eight installations, which will be situated at significant sites in the district, including the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Center and the Greenwood Cultural Center. The show will begin in spring 2019, and the works will remain on view through 2021, the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
“The story of Black Wall Street is already one of triumph and tragedy,” Lowe said in a statement. Through the Greenwood Art Project in time for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we have the opportunity to establish a future of prosperity, reconciliation and unity—a narrative that every city in America stands to learn from. I am committed to this project because of everything that it stands for.”
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum added, “In Tulsa, the racial and economic disparities that still exist today can be traced to the 1921 race massacre. The city as a whole suffers when economic inequality touches any neighborhood. The Greenwood Art Project will help encourage connections and engage citizens to understand the dangers of hatred, the power of resilience and the importance of reconciliation.”
Other winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 Public Art Challenge include Anchorage, Alaska; Coral Springs, Florida; and Jackson, Mississippi.