“Oklahoma incarcerates more human beings than anywhere in the world,” says Quraysh Ali Lansana, who helped conceive of the “Recovering History” poetry event at the Philbrook Museum on April 30. All of the poetry will center on topics around incarceration and internment, with readings by local artists as well as organizations like Tri-City Collective and Poetic Justice.
The partnership between Mr. Lansana and the Philbrook museum has borne several collaborations, including the current “From the Limits of Now” exhibit, which puts Oklahoma’s history and future on display. That exhibit was created after 18 months of conversations between Mr. Lansana and Philbrook leadership, as well as local artists and intellectuals. It features artwork from local Oklahomans, as well as nationally-renowned artists, under the theme of the United States’ history of Racism and Race Massacres.
Quraysh collaborates to deliver transformative art
Mr. Lansana considers the Recovering History poetry event as complementary to “From the Limits of Now.” Several of the artists reading their work are from Tri-City Collective, a Tulsa consortium of artists and intellectuals, of which Mr. Lansana is an integral member.
Collaboration is important to Mr. Lansana, as is having a collective vision of art and artistry in Tulsa and throughout the country. “Most of my accomplishments, I would not have achieved without collaboration,” he said during an interview with the Black Wall St Times. “We are stronger together.”
We are also a culture based on Black history. “Pop culture has always been based on Black culture,” he said, referencing hip hop, jazz, blues, gospel music — all the way to the pentatonic scale that Africans used 400 years ago while enslaved on ships to what is present-day America. Mr. Lansana wants to use art to describe history, providing reminders of all the race massacres and programs that have killed black people since that time.
Mr. Lansana, who is the head of Oklahoma State University’s new Center for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT), also teaches classes on the history of Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Moreover, he teaches other art and history programs. He is a featured Tulsa Artist Fellow, producing art and content relating to anti-oppression diversity, and inclusion, while engaging with Tulsans.