Blog - Oklahoma Center for the Humanities

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is proud to partner with Heller Theatre Company to present the second year of the horror-themed short play program, “Hellerween: Shorts to Scare You Shortless!”

The three-day festival features short horror and suspense themed plays written by local playwrights. The plays will be staged all throughout the building, giving guests the chance to explore the abandoned floors of 101 Archer.

We will also have a costume contest, trick-or-treating, and a cash bar for guests looking for some blood-curdling booze.

This year’s shorts include…

  • I Only Eat The Dying by Helen Patterson
  • Defenestration Class by Everett LeViness
  • It Only Takes One by David Blakely
  • The PP by Kelley Friedberg
  • Loop by BL Hardgrove
  • Fiona Fawn’s Post-Apocalyptic Radio Show by Helen Patterson
And these brave souls have been selected to direct these spooky tales…
  • Deborah Hunter
  • Jen T’homas
  • Andrew Smith
  • Jeremy Garrett
  • Prudence Lloyd
  • Aeden James

Hellerween: Shorts to Scare You Shortless will be October 26 – 28, 2023. The fun starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost $15. Check back soon for the link to buy ahead of time.

MAIN STREET: The Lost Dream of Route 66, is an exhibition of photographs by Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Edward Keating. The exhibition is accompanied by Keating’s eponymous book of 84 photographs (Damiani, 2018).

MAIN STREET is the result of 11 years of traveling along Route 66 — the 2,400 mile highway connecting Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Called the “mother road” in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Route 66 has inspired countless artists and writers, including Andy Warhol and Jack Kerouac. Following the path of migrant farmers and others, Keating has ventured westward and back along Route 66, documenting the lives of Americans along the way.

Keating approaches the route as both a journalist and memoirist. His photographs bring attention to the lives and myths scattered along the stretch of Route 66, and serve as a metaphor for the deterioration of middle-class America. According to New York Times journalist Charles LeDuff, MAIN STREET “is about those who traveled its length and those who settled along the way, wherever their bones and their broken cars dropped them.”

The exhibition is also personal mythology, constructed from the artist’s own recollections of the road: Keating’s mother grew up in Saint Louis along Route 66 where her father owned the city’s first Ford dealership. In his early 20s, he embarked on a cross-country trip on Route 66, but found himself, rock-bottom, in a broken-down motel in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 2000, he returned to Route 66 as a New York Times staff photographer, traversing all 2,400 miles in three weeks. The book is a milestone for an artist who has spent a life wandering along the main streets and back roads of America’s most mythic highway.

Keating served as a photojournalist for nearly 40 years for such publications as New York Times, Forbes and Business Week. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for the 1997 series “Vows,” co-authored with Lois Smith Brady, and he shared with NYT staff the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for the series, “How Race is Lived in America.” In 2001, Keating received the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, as well as the John Faber Award for International Reporting, Overseas Press Club, for his series of photographs on the September 11 attacks. In 2003, Keating joined Contact Press Images photography agency. MAIN STREET was Keating’s sixth monograph. Tragically, Keating died of cancer in September 2021, contracted as a result of his exposure to toxic materials at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11. He was 65 years of age.

MAIN STREET will open on October’s First Friday, running the 6th through November 18th. For more information, follow us on social media.

Join us at 101 E. Archer on October 23 at 7 p.m.!

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will host a series of Halloween-themed events at 101 Archer, beginning with the haunting mysticism of tarot.

What does a random card draw tell us about synchronicity? How can engagement with medieval symbolism enrich our modern lives? And how can we preserve our sense of free will while facing fateful factors beyond our control?

T. Susan Chang will explore the tarot deck’s evolution over six centuries and the ways tarot acts as mirror and window for the cultures in which they appear.

Chang has been reading tarot for twenty-six years. She is the author of numerous books on tarot, including The Living Tarot: Connecting the Cards to Everyday Life for Better Readings (Llewellyn 2023) and Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers (Llewellyn 2018). With Mel Meleen, she created and hosts Fortune’s Wheelhouse: an esoteric tarot podcast.

Chang was certified as a professional tarot reader by the American Tarot Association. She offers online tarot readings and tarot mentorship sessions, and she currently teaches the Living Tarot—an online tarot course for all levels of reader experience—to over 350 students. Chang is also the creator of the Arcana Case® for tarot decks, along with her line of astrological perfumes and tarot talismans. Learn more here.

Help us to celebrate the spooky season by welcoming Chang to 101 E Archer! For more information, follow us on social media.

 

Local author and National Magazine Award nominee Victor Luckerson is partnering with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities and nine other local organizations to launch a series of events aimed at expanding the understanding of Greenwood far beyond the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The series, titled Deep Greenwood: A Tulsa Community Read, will expand on themes and issues highlighted in Built From the Fire, Luckerson’s acclaimed new history book about the Greenwood District.

“The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred over two days, but the story of Greenwood stretches across more than a century. It’s a story that has its horrors, but it also has a lot of hope,” Luckerson said. “It’s important to honor and acknowledge that full history.”

Across a series of five events over the next year, Deep Greenwood, will examine the 118-year history of Greenwood step by step, with each event capturing a different era. The series will begin by exploring the racist politics in Tulsa that preceded the massacre, and end with an opportunity to imagine new possibilities for Greenwood’s future. In. between attendees will learn more about Greenwood’s vibrant culture and nightlife, the impact of urban renewal, and the legacy of activism in the neighborhood. The events will incorporate musical performances, photo exhibits, and more to go beyond the boundaries of a traditional book talk.

Each event will be anchored by a set of chapters from Luckerson’s book Built From the Fire, which has received praise nationwide since its publication by Random House in May 2023. The New York Times called the book “absorbing,” while the Washington Post praised it as an exceptional and thoroughly researched account of a “multifaceted community that refuses to be silenced.” Attendees will be encouraged to read select chapters from the book ahead of each event and bring questions for the author to the talks. Copies can be purchased at Fulton Street Books or Magic City Books or checked out from the Tulsa City-County Library. The book will also be on sale at each event.

The Deep Greenwood series is being sponsored by the University of Tulsa’s Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, the OSU-Tulsa Library, and the Tulsa City-County Library. Additional sponsors include All Souls Unitarian Church, the Historic Big 10 Ballroom, Fulton Street Books, Magic City Books, the Black Wall Street Times, the Oklahoma Eagle and the North Tulsa Unity Book Club.

Learn more about the series of events, including dates, times and locations, by visiting humanities.utulsa.edu/deep-greenwood/.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is continuing to share the stories of Oklahoma’s all-Black towns by delivering recordings of February’s symposium to town leaders and historical societies.

On Saturday, September 2, Dayne Riley, the center’s assistant director, travelled to two of the towns, Clearview and Rentiesville.  After meeting with leaders of both towns, Riley attended the annual Rentiesville Blues Festival.

The All-Black Towns of Oklahoma symposium, which was organized by the center, focused on the state’s 13 remaining historic all-Black towns and brought together anthropologists, historians, and town leaders to discuss their pasts and futures. TU recorded the event to document the program and make it accessible to members of these towns who were unable to attend. Riley worked with town leaders to curate an exhibition to coincide with the symposium.

One such town leader was Clearview native, Shirley Nero, who founded the Oklahoma African American Educator Hall of Fame—located in her hometown. The nonprofit honors the state’s best educators, inducting them into the hall of fame at an annual event. The group also offers scholarships to Oklahoma high school seniors planning to attend Oklahoma universities. Nero was a crucial help during the planning of the symposium, providing advice, connections, and even several images for the accompanying exhibit.

After meeting with Nero, Riley traveled to Rentiesville to see its longtime Mayor Mildred Burkhalter, an expert speaker at the symposium.

During his trip, Riley stayed in one of town’s new cabins, which were built to enable tourism to the historic space. The town received Rural Energy for America Program and USDA Rural Development grants to build cabins for attendees of the blues festival and other visitors to the town.

Started in 1991 by Oklahoma-born guitarist D.C. Minner and his wife, Selby, the event draws nearly 3,000 people to the McIntosh County town over Labor Day weekend. While working on the all-black towns exhibition, Riley became particularly interested in the annual festival, one of many events featured in the exhibit. Selby Minner supplied one of her husband’s guitars for the exhibition. “I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Rentiesville again and to experience the festival, which is such an important piece of Oklahoma’s music scene,” says Riley. The three-day concert features 40 regional musicians like Oklahoma Ollie and Scott Ellison and constitutes one of the town’s main sources of revenue, which has helped it survive.

 

Join us September 20 at 7 p.m. at 101 E. Archer in Tulsa’s Arts District.

Help us celebrate the launch of The Palgrave Handbook of Global Fantasy! On September 20, co-editors Elana Gomel & Danielle Gurevitch will explore the questions: what is fantasy, and who decides?

The Palgrave Handbook of Global Fantasy is the first-of-its-kind comprehensive overview of fantasy outside the Anglo-American hegemony. While most academic studies follow the well-trodden path of fantasy, focusing on Tolkien, Rowling, and others, this collection spotlights rich and unique fantasy literatures in India, Australia, Italy, Greece, Poland, Russia, China, and many other areas of Europe, Asia, and the global South.

The first section focuses on the theoretical aspects of the fantasy genre, broadening and modifying existing definitions to accommodate its global reach.

The second section contains essays illuminating specific cultures, countries, and religious or ethnic traditions. From Aboriginal myths to (self)-representation in Tibet; from the appropriation of the Polish Witcher by American pop culture to modern Greek fantasy that does not rely on stories of Olympian deities; from Israeli vampires to Talmudic sages, this collection is an indispensable read for anyone interested in fantasy fiction and global literature.

Gomel & Gurevitch will provide an overview of the book and its major moves. They’ll also highlight a few chapters in the collection, sharing the insights and values of an expanded definition of fantasy literature. Plus, if you arrive early, you’ll get a complimentary Dungeons and Dragons dice set. Join us to discuss the breadth and depth of one of the world’s most recognizable genres!

For more information, follow us on social media.

Join us September 14 at 6 p.m.
TU’s Lorton Performance Center

On September 14th at 7 p.m., the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will screen Disney Pixar’s Turning Red at the Lorton Performance Center on campus.

The film, a Best Animated Feature nominee in 2023, follows Meilin “Mei” Lee, whose life gets turned upside down when she wakes one morning transformed into a red panda. Mei, with support from her friends and family, must learn how to balance her feelings and remember her family and friends to avoid the disastrous effects that may arise from her transformations.

Join us before the screening at 6 p.m. for dinner and various activities in the lobby outside the Gussman Concert Hall. Test your Pixar knowledge in our trivia game and wear your best costume for a chance to win a gift card to Circle Cinema!

After the screening, a panel of TU faculty from our Film, Art, Psychology, Computer Science, and Game Design departments will discuss many aspects of the movie, from its animation style to its cultural significance.

The screening goes precedes the October 3rd Presidential Lecture featuring Danielle Feinberg. Feinberg began her career at Pixar Animation Studios in February 1997, and since then, has worked on 14 of Pixar’s feature films including A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. She took on role of visual effects supervisor for Pixar’s latest release, Turning Red, the first woman in 20 years to take on that role at the company.

Join us next Thursday starting at 6 p.m.! For more information, follow us on social media.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is celebrating fall with a big bash for TU students during the October First Friday Art Crawl. Along with the usual food spread, live music and cash bar in our gallery, we will have free sno cones from Josh’s Sno Shack, yard games in our garden, and face painting. TU graduate students can head up to the second floor for a private reception. All students are welcome to the third floor balcony for a glo party and visit with Goldie!

Don’t have a car or a ride? No worries – TU will have free shuttles running from Bayless Plaza on campus to 101 Archer and back from 4:45 – 10 p.m.

Not only will students be able to explore 101 Archer, its exhibitions, and exclusive TU student amenities, but they’ll also be able to immerse themselves in the Arts District’s night life. Living Arts and 108 Contemporary will be free and the Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan Centers will offer reduced admission. Students can also visit street vendors, plenty of coffee shops, bars, and more.

Don’t miss experiencing the flow of Tulsa’s bustling Arts District. The bash starts at 6 p.m. on October 6. Take advantage of TU’s location in one of the nation’s coolest growing cities.

Cherokee Nation has partnered with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities to further share the story of the Cherokee Freedmen and explore the tribe’s history with Black slavery. This exhibit, “We Are Cherokee: Cherokee Freedmen and the Right to Citizenship,” is now open at 101 E. Archer St.

“This exhibition showcases the journey of Cherokee Freedmen, illuminating an unwavering determination in the face of adversity,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “It serves as a tribute to the enduring spirit of our Freedmen brothers and sisters, and reaffirms our commitment to reconciliation, honoring the deep bond that unites us as Cherokee people.”

The exhibit first debuted in Tahlequah at the Cherokee National History Museum last year, with an impactful narrative that details the fight Cherokee Freedmen endured to take back their treaty-protected right to Cherokee Nation citizenship. The exhibit is presented as part of the Cherokee Freedmen Art and History Project initiative, established by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., which seeks to broaden Cherokee Nation’s understanding of the Cherokee Freedmen experience and ensure that it is included in the greater narrative of Cherokee history.

That experience is shared from Cherokee people’s earliest known participation in chattel slavery in the eighteenth century on through various historical milestones in the decades that followed, including: the adoption of plantation-style slavery among Cherokees, Indian Removal to the west, and the American Civil War. It also shares how the Treaty of 1866 granted freed slaves in Cherokee Nation the same rights as native Cherokees. 

The exhibit also discusses the steps taken by the tribe to strip Freedmen and their descendants of tribal citizenship and examines the 2017 US District Court ruling that upheld the Treaty of 1866 and reaffirmed Cherokee Freedmen as citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

“TU’s Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is proud to once again partner with the Cherokee Nation as we seek to tell the stories of this land and those who call it home,” said university President Brad R. Carson, who is a Cherokee citizen. “As the region’s premier institution teaching and examining the arts and humanities, The University of Tulsa is committed to supporting the diverse voices that enrich our city and our state. We value our role in creating community access through our venue in the Tulsa Arts District for organizations like Cherokee Nation to share their programs.”

The exhibit debuts during the First Friday Art Crawl. It will remain on display through Sept. 23, Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12 to 5 p.m.

For more news about OCH exhibitions, events, and special programming, follow OCH on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Join us on Tuesday, September 26 at 7pm at TU’s 101 Archer in the Arts District!

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will welcome renowned critic, journalist, and author, Frances Wilson, to the University of Tulsa.

Wilson wrote The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth, which won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize; How to Survive the Titanic, winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography; and Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and she received a fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center in 2018.

Most recently, Wilson published a biography of D.H. Lawrence entitled, Burning Man: The Trials of D.H. Lawrence. The work has received high praise for its innovative treatment of an infamously cantankerous author. Anne C. Heller in the Washington Independent Review of Books writes, “Literary context is [Wilson’s] art, and it’s with virtuosity and passion that she elicits the contiguities of Romantic imagery and temperament in Dante, Shelley, Lawrence, and others.” Jessica Ferri in the Los Angels Times calls Burning Man a “revelation” and “proof that a great biography has little to do with the greatness of its subject.”

Wilson will discuss her work work as a journalist and critic, Burning Man, the art of biography, and the research she is doing on novelist Muriel Spark in McFarlin Library’s Special Collections at 101 E. Archer.

Don’t miss this chance to explore the work of one of our nation’s leading journalists!

We are excited to announce our event line-up for September! Whether you’re interested in fantasy, film, modernism, or the history of Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District – we have something for you. Continue reading to learn more details about each event.

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“The least movement is of importance to all of nature.  The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” 

–Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1670) 

 Throughout the 2023-24 academic year, the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will explore the theme of movement.  We live, after all, in a world of constant motion, from quivering quarks to daily commutes, summer breezes, immigrants seeking new lives, and people coming together to advocate for change.  In deciding on this topic to guide our work, the board returned consistently both to its capacious intellectual nature as well as its ability to capture something important about the dynamism of our present moment. 

Movement, as Pascal suggests, is a way of thinking about change and seeing the world not as a fixed reality, but rather as a dynamic flux through which we sometimes race and other times dance.  Our humanity is defined, in part, precisely by our ability to adapt to such circumstances and to marvel at the ways that those small pebbles—a decision to leave home, start something new, gather with others, or pursue a vision—can indeed cause ripples that radiate through our lives and communities.  We thus plan to embrace the wide reach of the theme, by looking at movement as motion, as shifts in art or politics, as music and dance, and as a physical activity that can take us to new destinations. 

We have already started building a rich array of programs around this theme, including: 

  • Our newest exhibition at 101 Archer about the movement to restore citizenship to the Cherokee Freedman; 
  • An October Presidential Lecture by Danielle who will talk about how she turns computer code into living characters and emotional stories at Pixar; 
  • An exhibition still in planning about the science, beauty, and terror of tornadoes; 
  • And a city-wide reading of Victor Luckerson’s Built from Fire, which will encourage people throughout Tulsa to move out of their comfort zones and explore our shared histories in unexpected places. 

There’s much more currently in the works as well, including lectures on the history of dance, critiques of Western liberalism, and a special theatrical performance that will ask the audience to move around 101 Archer for Halloween-inspired stories. 

I invite you to join us by visiting our galleries, attending our talks, and reaching out with ideas for events and collaborations.  Although under punishing stress at the moment, the arts and humanities alike offer us a way to shake loose from stasis, to imagine alternative worlds, and to knit together our fractured communities.  In a word, they urge us individually and collectively to embrace movement as a fundamentally human experience. 

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities is bringing the traveling exhibit, The Tolerance Project, to the Sooner State for the first time.

The Tolerance Project features a collection of posters created by prominent artists around the world. Each illustrates the word “tolerance” in the artist’s native language and visually shows what that word means to them and their culture.

“In a world increasingly split by social injustice and racial disparity, the Tolerance Project utilizes the unique power of design to remind us what we all have in common” – says founder Mirko Ilić on the organization’s website.

Ilić began this initiative back in 2017. After attending the “House of Tolerance” film festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, he prompted 28 artists to create posters about tolerance, which then went on display in a 10-day show in Ljubljana. The show was so successful, he decided to bring the show to other countries.

Since 2017, there have been 170 different shows in more than 40 countries. This summer alone, the posters were on display in cities in the United States, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Ghana, Slovenia, Austria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Here in Tulsa, visitors at 101 E. Archer will be able to see 50 different posters, a mere fraction of the larger 200+ poster collection. TU’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will also have a small pop-up exhibit on campus.

The Tolerance Project opens during the September 1 First Friday Art Crawl. It runs through October 27, 2023.

101 E. Archer is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12 to 5 p.m. Closures for special events will be announced on our social media pages.

Exhibit Preview

Levente Benedek | Romania
Tomislav Bobinec | Croatia
Radovan Jenko | Slovenia

 

On August 1, the OCH marked its six-month anniversary in our striking new space at 101 Archer—the gateway to the city’s Arts District.  Our dedicated team has worked hard to activate the building’s full potential and we’ve now hosted seven different shows, including art from Ukraine, an overview of Oklahoma’s All-Black Towns, and the Mayfest invitational gallery.  And in June, we opened On the Inside, an exhibition of artwork and photographs by incarcerated women that has helped us understand both the power of the gallery and the unique ability of the arts and humanities to improve our communities by creating deep connections between people.

As we detail in this story, OCH had a unique opportunity to partner with Poetic Justice and our own Switchyard Festival to create an extraordinary show.  It featured self-portraits, paintings, sculpture and more—all created by women in prison who found in art a way to tell their stories.  Their work offered a sense of hope, discovery, and resilience that inspired the thousands of people who had a chance to see it.  Our most important audience, however, included the women themselves, some of whom received permission to leave prison and see their work on display in the gallery.  And we also welcomed prison wardens and administrators, who in turn have agreed to expand art-making opportunities in these facilities precisely because they open a pathway to recovery, reintegration, and a full human existence.

Every day, it seems, I read a new story about the threat of AI, the alarming decline in humanities enrollments, and the shuttering of arts and cultural programs from elementary schools through colleges and universities.  These crises seem dire, but On the Inside reminds us that to survive, the humanities must take root not just in the classroom, but in our communities and our day-to-day lives.  Exploring what it means to be human is not an academic topic, but an orientation toward the world and toward one another.

As you’ll find in this newsletter, OCH will continue to pursue this vision in our new space, through shows like We Are Cherokee, through the downstream effects of events like the Work of Sovereignty, and through our Common Read program on campus.  We seek to create connection, spark difficult conversations, and better understand the complexity and contradiction of being human. I hope you’ll join us at 101 Archer as we continue this work.

Sean Latham
Director

In light of an exhibition at TU’s 101 E. Archer gallery, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has invited a photographer with Poetic Justice in two of its prisons.

The exhibition, titled “On the Inside,” features poetry, paintings, sketches, craftwork, and multimedia pieces created by women incarcerated in Oklahoma and California.

Ellen Stackable, executive director of Poetic Justice, curated “On the Inside” with photographer Lisa Loftus. In 2014, Stackable co-founded Poetic Justice with the mission to empower incarcerated women to find their voice through poetic and artistic expression. Since then, the nonprofit has grown to offer writing and art workshops in facilities throughout Oklahoma, California, and Tijuana, Mexico.

Photographer Lisa Loftus took the inmate portraits featured in the exhibit. However, the portraits displayed in the exhibit only feature women incarcerated in California.

But the Oklahoma Department of Corrections now is granting Poetic Justice special access.

The Eddie Warrior Correctional Center (and subsequently, Mabel Bassett) agreed to allow Loftus and her camera to see inside its walls. After passing a background check, and submitting an equipment list for review, Loftus will build on her work in California, working directly with inmates in Oklahoma to capture their portraits and share their stories.

“I was delighted!” Stackable says. “The narrative about individuals who are incarcerated in women’s prisons and jails has historically been told from a point of view that is not representative of people who actually live the story of incarceration. More often than not, these individuals are defined by one day, one news story, and one picture taken the day of their arrest. … We at Poetic Justice believe in something much greater. … Everyone deserves to have a safe space to process trauma, heal wounds, and rewrite their stories.”

Additionally, thanks to Stackable’s efforts, some women from Community Corrections at Eddie Warrior were able to take a field trip to 101 E. Archer to visit the exhibition. Stackable says this is the first time the DOC has allowed incarcerated women to take a field trip like this. In between a writing workshop and some pizza for lunch, they talked with a group of women who were recently released from prison, discussing the value of artistic outlets in their own lives and the steps it took to readjust to life on the outside.

Poetic Justice hopes more inmates be allowed to take field trips like this in the future.

For more news about exhibitions, events, and special programming, follow OCH on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.