VOICES explores the perspectives of six local Black artists and how they use art to communicate and reflect.
Aunj is a Painter, Muralist, and Mixed Media Artist based in Tulsa, OK. Her work primarily centers around her lived experiences as a Black woman, representation of Black beauty/joy, and self-preservation. Much inspiration is drawn from the lives of her loved ones, introspective contemplation, and fantasy/sci-fi media. Aunj graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2018 and early in her career she exhibited at Oklahoma University, IAO Gallery, and her home University in Edmond. After her move back to Tulsa in 2019, she joined an all-Black Artist’s collective called Black Moon. In March 2022, she resigned from her role within the collective and has since been featured as a muralist for the Sunny Dayz Mural Festival, exhibited work at MAINSITE in Norman, been commissioned for a 75’ mural, and is now serving as Program Chair and Development Co-Chair of the board for Sunny Dayz. As her career reaches forward, she is staying actively invested within the arts community of Oklahoma and she is optimistic that the art scene will continue to be more diverse and inclusive in the future.
A multimedia artist, arts educator, and writer, Dallas was featured in the Roman Bearden Centennial Celebration in 2011. She was a participating artist in the City of Tulsa’s Greenwood Art Project commemorating the centennial anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Dallas ‘s work has exhibited extensively in group and solo exhibitions and can be found in private collections in Namibia, Somaliland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Building on her MFA thesis at California College of the Arts titled Painted Bridges, Dallas founded Afrikanation Artists Organization, based in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and Oklahoma City, to unify African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and continental African populations through art and design for community activism. Ebony is a proud graduate of the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Leadership Arts program and ArtistINC.
Myriah Downs is a contemporary painter based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Myriah’s paintings use vibrant colors, large scale, and organic textures to explore the overwhelming and often chaotic nature of life. Myriah began painting through a journey in liberation and self-expression. Myriah’s work focuses on transcending the limits of spoken language to tell visual stories informed by her experiences growing up in the Deep South. Myriah’s artwork has been featured in exhibitions and private collections throughout the United States. Myriah received her Bachelor of Arts from Arkansas State University and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Verdean Evergarden is a 21-year-old artist who specializes in creating paintings on canvas with acrylic paint. He began painting the summer after his high school graduation in 2019, and eventually realized the value of a painting as tangible and beautiful proof of time. After he sold his first painting he then began to identify as an “Artist” and thus began to give more of himself, more of his mind and philosophy to his art which helped him create a unique and thoughtful style of work that appeals to many and hopefully one day, will appeal to all. He’s won multiple awards in his four years of creating art, such as the Outstanding Senior Award given by Artspace at UNTITLED, the Scout Finch award presented by the Neighborhood Alliance, a one year artist in residence at the Paseo Arts and Creativity Center, he also participated and won the first place “thunder grand prize package” due to his mural “Castle In The Sky” which he painted for the annual OKC NYE Opening Night Event which took place December 2020, later his mural would be displayed inside the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
Born in Rochester, New York, Edward Grady spent his formative years in New York and Pennsylvania before becoming the prolific artist he is today. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1971 and his Master of Arts in Education in 1976 from Fisk University in Nashville, TN. During his studies, he completed summer museum internships at the Smithsonian Institute and the Detroit Institute of Art and in the summer of 1970, he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, MA. While there, he was strongly influenced by internationally renowned artist Jacob Lawrence. Upon completion of his Master of Arts, Grady completed a year’s internship at the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum in Rochester, NY.
Elizabeth Henley is a painter and multimedia artist from Tulsa, Oklahoma. After taking color theory and art classes in pursuit of an Interior Design degree at OSU, she realized her main passion was creating work through visual art. She began displaying art publicly in 2015 with a focus on portraiture and incorporating elements of afro-futurism into her pieces. Her art journeys through themes of self-exploration and preservation, identity, strength, trauma, spirituality, and solitude as they relate directly to her experience of growing up as a Black Woman in present day Oklahoma. In 2017, she redirected her artistic pursuits to finding space in her local art scene for Black Artists in the Tulsa area. This desire for inclusion and diversity in art led her to found and create Black Moon in 2018, an all-Black artist collective in Tulsa focused on breaking
standards, pushing innovation, and cultivating creativity among her local community. With the formation of Black Moon, Elizabeth and fellow artists have shown n galleries and museums throughout the Oklahoma area, including Art Hall OKC, the Philbrook and the Gilcrease Museum, and created work that has been included in national news publications. Her goal is to become a successful and well-established artist, and promote Black Moon as a beneficial resource for artists in her area.