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An exhibit in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is using the power of art to tackle race relations, bring healing


Updated February 01, 2019 01:11 PM EST

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Jan. 21. We are bringing it back today in observance of the first day of Black History Month.


TULSA, Okla. (CIRCA via KTUL) — For many people, artwork is a glimpse of what could be, and no one knows that more than Ricco Wright.

"To my mind, this is how we start the healing process," Wright said. "It's suggesting mediating, arbitrating in a way that is actually impactful."

Wright hopes his gallery, the Black Wall Street Gallery, will help Black Wall Street move forward through art, and more specifically, a new exhibit, called "The Conciliation Series." Wright is the artistic director of the gallery and the chairman of Black Wall Street Arts.

Black Wall Street was the nickname given to the thriving community of African-American businesses located in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa in the early 20th century. But in 1921, a group of white residents massacred hundreds of black residents and destroyed much of the neighborhood within hours.

The event was a major blow to race relations in the United States, and the neighborhood has gone through periods of growth since as it tries to move forward but also remember the past.

"'The Conciliation Series' is a 12-months series where we pair one black artist with one white artist in the spirit of bridging the gap in Tulsa," said Wright, who is pictured above in the Facebook photo.

The series features a different pairing every month. This month, it's photographer Nicole Donis, who is white, and painter Elizabeth Henley, who is black.

"Elizabeth focuses on feminism and Afro futurism, whereas Nicole, she's providing us with the social commentary, and that's thought provoking," Wright said.

There's no doubt this is great exposure for these artists, but Wright is hoping this project will also be part of the solution in race relations.

"It's fascinating to see, because you see the people transforming themselves by virtue of meeting other people who they might not have met anywhere else," Wright said.

He hopes the gallery and his vision will become part of the pathway to rebuilding Black Wall Street and its place in Tulsa's history.


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