Crystal Z Campbell’s multidisciplinary art practice centers on “public secrets” – stories known by many but rarely told. Lines of Sight illuminates the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, when white mobs attacked and killed hundreds of Black residents, destroying over 35 city blocks of the predominantly Black Greenwood district (a.k.a. Black Wall Street) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, rather than images of the massacre, this immersive exhibition offers an alternative narrative revealing Black communities that thrived despite the massacre.
In the film Flight, archival footage by the Black amateur filmmaker Solomon Sir Jones, who documented thriving Black communities in Oklahoma from the mid 1920s on, is punctuated by the Gap Band’s hit song You Dropped a Bomb on Me. Campbell provides multiple points of entry, intentionally making the images difficult to perceive by using an “impossible” color combination of red and green hues.
Three collages from the Notes from Black Wall Street series feature archival photographs depicting the rebuilding of Greenwood. The artist applied paint to scar the images, their response to the deliberate erasure and silencing of these stories. With each artistic decision and gesture, Campbell employs various modes of making historical records legible or illegible, complicating how we as viewers perceive history.