The Greenwood Art Project 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.
The Greenwood Art Project Google Arts & Culture page is a one-of-a-kind gathering of documentary photos and short films collected and curated by visual anthropologist Marlon Hall. The page features online exhibitions of intergenerational storytelling and photography by Tulsan photographers Don Thompson and Brian Ellison with ethnographic photos and short films framed as visual poems directed by Marlon Hall. Hall describes the over-150 images, stories, and meta-narratives also included as a “reliquary of sacred artifacts that tell the story of the phoenix that is rising from the ashes of the 1921 massacre.
Led by MacArthur Award winning artist Rick Lowe, this project is a partnership with the City of Tulsa, The Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, George Kaiser Family Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Greenwood Art Project is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, which encourages mayors to collaborate with artists to develop innovative public art projects that address significant civic issues.
“One hundred years after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the Greenwood Art Project is advancing healing in our community through art. For generations, the worst event in Tulsa history wasn’t spoken about in public. Today, artists are helping to educate and inform people all around the world about this tragedy – and by doing so honor the memory of our neighbors who were lost.”
-G.T. Bynum, Mayor of Tulsa
“Greenwood’s tragic and important history lay buried for far too long, so when local leaders brought their moving proposal for the Greenwood Art Project to Bloomberg Philanthropies, we were honored to help them bring it to life. Our foundation created the Public Art Challenge because we know firsthand how public art can inspire both conversation and action. The Greenwood Art Project not only honors the past of America’s Black Wall Street, but it also helps strengthen and unify a historic neighborhood that more Americans should know about – and see for themselves.” -Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th Mayor of New York City
“The process of curating this digital exhibition has been anthropological,” Hall said. “Laughing, crying, dancing, and doing life with folks in this resilient community inspires the Greenwood Art Project’s Google Arts & Culture exhibits. Most of the stories, photos, short-films, and ethnographic documentaries you will see in the exhibits have not only come from collection and observation. The digital artifacts came from my participation in the beautiful culture of the people here in Greenwood where I have since chosen to live. We are telling the story of a phoenix that is rising from the ashes of the 1921 massacre of Black Wall Street one story after the next. So much so that we call our ethnographic films, Visual Poems because they are driven by the heartbeat of the people from stanza to stanza rather than moved by chronological events from chapter to chapter. Our GAC page is visual prose to a community.” - Marlon Hall, Greenwood Art Project Anthropologist in Residence