Notes from Black Street (Or How to Project Yourself into the Future) is a solo painting exhibition by Oklahoma-based artist, Crystal Z Campbell. The exhibition centers Campbell’s ongoing series of painted and collaged found photographs that ripple between abstraction and representation. Culled from institutional archives, these highly textured paintings highlight and fabulate Black life in Greenwood (Tulsa, Oklahoma) before, during, and after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. A series of one-hundred smaller painted photographs will form a mini-monument. As a counterpoint to the oft circulated images of Greenwood under siege, a selection of larger hand-painted photos will feature still unidentified Black citizens standing on the land in repose, lounging across automobiles and lawns, or perched atop tree limbs. Riffing on the role of Black portraiture in photography and representation, the use of these images foreground the desire for self-fashioning and self-determination precisely one hundred years after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The narrative is always at stake: will justice enter the frame upon a century?
Crystal Z Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of African American, Filipino, and Chinese descents. Campbell finds complexity in public secrets— fragments of information known by many but untold or unspoken. Recent works revisit questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks’s “immortal” cell line, ponder the role of a political monument and displacement in a Swedish coastal landscape, and salvage a 35mm film from a demolished Black activist theater in Brooklyn as a relic of gentrification. Sonic, material, and archival traces of the witness informs their work in film, performance, installation, sound, painting, and texts.
Honors and awards include the Pollock-Krasner Award, MAP Fund,MacDowell, MAAA, Skowhegan, Rijksakademie, Whitney ISP, Franklin Furnace; Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and Flaherty Film Seminar. Exhibitions and screening include the Drawing Center (US), Nest (NL), ICA-Philadelphia (US), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (US), REDCAT (US), Artissima (IT), Studio Museum of Harlem (US), Project Row Houses (US), and SculptureCenter (US), amongst others. Campbell’s writing has been featured in World Literature Today, Monday Journal, GARAGE, and Hyperallergic.
Campbell is a Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center & David and Roberta Logie Fellow (2020-2021) living and working in Oklahoma. Campbell is founder of the virtual programming platform archiveacts.com.