TULSA, OKLAHOMA — Lines of connection define the shape of a puzzle and how it fits together.

Artist Ebony Iman Dallas is spending part of her summer with the story of water and people of African descent in a series of 3 big puzzles that somehow fit a thousand years together in a hundred different pieces.

“The real test is, ‘do I have all the pieces,'” she smiles.

The only piece missing is a mirror image of the viewer.

She grew up in Edmond, OK drawing everything and absorbing an interesting family heritage.

5 generations of Oklahomans occupy her mother’s side.

Ebony’s father emigrated to Oklahoma from Somalia in the 1970’s.

“It’s helped me to see things,” she states.

“See connections,” we ask?

“Oh yeah,” she responds. “And to learn more about those connections.”

The colors she uses may be bright, but the stories and struggles she deals with come from dark tragedies including the burning of the Greenwood District in Tulsa more than a century ago, and her own father’s death at the hands of police just before she was born.

Art, for Ebony, has provided a way to, not only see connections, but make sense of them, a lot like fitting together a puzzle.

Dallas says, “Through storytelling and art, they definitely helped me heal through the process of making it.”

Her large works incorporate African mythology and Oklahoma history, her own origin and diaspora, struggle and triumph, in the form of murals, wood cuts, and even painted basketballs.

“There are so many ways to express yourself,” she offers.

She works in Tulsa these days, making ready to bring her first child into the world any day.

Dallas also has an exhibit on display in OKC at the JRB Gallery.


More Great State Stories

The puzzle pieces of her life, and her art, continually come together in remarkable ways.

Great State is sponsored by Oklahoma Proton Center

Follow Galen’s Great State adventures on social media!