Gilcrease Museum features African American art never before shown publicly

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Michael Ellison, Mickey Dees, 1987, woodcut. Photograph by Reis Birdwhistle.

TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – A special collection of African American art that has never before been publicly displayed is being featured in an exhibit at a Tulsa museum.

Memories & Inspiration: The Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art is on display at the Gilcrease Museum until May 17, according to an Oklahoma Humanities news release.

The exhibit was made possible thanks to exhibit sponsor Oklahoma Humanities, which presented Gilcrease Museum a $10,000 check to support the exhibit.

“The Memories and Inspiration” Exhibition is a vital component in telling the full story of the American experience through visual art,” said Caroline Lowery, Oklahoma Humanities Executive Director. “Oklahoma Humanities is proud to sponsor this important and impressive exhibit that examines how African American artists explore, express, and interpret their histories and cultures.”

The exhibit features 62 selected works from Kerry and C. Betty Davis’ collection of over 400 pieces of African American art spanning almost 100 years.

“They are one of the first African American couples that’s been able to curate a collection like that,” said Chelsi Dennis, Director of Development & Community Engagement.

Quraysh Ali Lansana, guest curator and Tulsa Artist Fellow, was brought on board to find ways to connect the exhibit to Tulsa.

Oklahoma Humanities works to strengthen communities by “helping Oklahomans learn about the human experience, understand new perspectives and participate knowledgeably in civic life,” according to the news release.

The organization grants over $200,000 to nonprofits each year and plans to fund over $48,000 in programs in Tulsa in 2020.

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