Oklahoma Contemporary
Film still -- altered to appear in lime green and bright red -- shows two figures standing near an old buggy-style car

Crystal Z Campbell: Flight

Crystal Z Campbell: Flight

May 27 - Oct. 28, 2021
W.C. Payne Foundation Artist-in-Residence Studio Gallery

Using light, sound and digital film projection, Flight explored the physical, architectural and cultural residue of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre into the present. Timed with the 100-year commemoration of the massacre, Flight incorporated archival material with digital video, digitized 35-mm film footage, three-channel sound, and vinyl. The artist provided multiple points of entry and angles of refraction, offering an unfixed sense of what is varying parts history, impressions, analysis, and reverie.

Flight is a sonic and filmic experience, marking the centennial of one of Oklahoma’s greatest public secrets: the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Gazing at this past through the lens of the present, Flight poetically hovers between metaphor, omission, fiction, rumor, and historical reality. Piloting this complex narrative is a riddle of impossibility.

Flight charts multiple points of departure:

Who learned to fly?
Who scoped the area?
Who looked out?
Who fled?
Who could not flee?
Who obstructed visibility?
Who engaged the ground?

In the space between fugitivity and stillness, I offer flight.
A, sometimes, quiet landing.

Crystal Z Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist who uses film, live performance, sound, painting, installation and writing to amplify underacknowledged histories and public secrets. Her work has been exhibited and screened internationally at The Drawing Center, ICA-Philadelphia, REDCAT, and the Studio Museum of Harlem, among many other museums, galleries and cultural institutions. Campbell is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Award and the Tulsa Art Fellowship; and of residencies including the Whitney Independent Study Program, Black Spatial Relics, MacDowell, and Skowhegan. A current Harvard Radcliffe Institute and Film Study Center Fellow, Campbell was recently awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts. Of African-American, Filipino, and Chinese descent, the artist lives in Oklahoma.

This exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Image: Flight, 2021. Still from video installation incorporating archival material selected from 16 mm film footage taken by Solomon Sir Jones to document African-American communities in Oklahoma from 1924 to 1928. © Crystal Z Campbell, film still courtesy the artist.

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Oklahoma Contemporary
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