Phillips Seminary Welcomes New Art Exhibit with Second Annual Tulsa Race Massacre Lectureship

The largest exhibition in the region of works by African American artist Harvey Johnson will be on display at Phillips Theological Seminary during its second annual Tulsa Race Massacre Lectureship.

The art exhibit, “The Language of Our Souls: The Visual Poetry of Harvey Johnson,” begins April 23 with a champagne reception for Johnson from 5–9 p.m. The works will be on public display April 25–30 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. at the seminary, 901 N. Mingo Rd. in Tulsa, Okla.

African American Episcopal Church Bishop of Ecumenical and Urban Affairs the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Nathaniel Leath will address the community April 24 at 6:45 p.m. Leath’s presentation on “The Destruction of Black Wall Street and the Burden of Invisibility” will be available in person and online. A 5:30 p.m. welcome reception precedes the lecture and features live music.

Tickets for the receptions and lecture are available at no charge through Eventbrite.

“Our event this year combines the power of art with the urgent call to social justice,” said Lee H. Butler, Jr., vice president of academic affairs and academic dean at Phillips. “This lectureship commemorates the race massacre, suggests lessons the history offers, and interprets the inherited legacies that must be confronted.”

The art exhibit features more than a dozen of Johnson’s works along with pieces by Delita Martin, John Biggers and Kermit Oliver. Visitors will have the opportunity to view 27 pieces that showcase the beauty, resilience and strength of Black culture and community.

“My visual poetry expresses the relationship between our African ancestral communities throughout America,” Johnson writes in a statement on his work. He says the foundational aesthetic “is deeply grounded in African spirituals, gospels, blues, and jazz, recognizing the capacity of the African American community in America to ascend above racial abuse, while transforming it into a positive spiritual humanity.”

Johnson came to Houston from Port Arthur to study art at Texas Southern University under world-renowned artist, sculptor, and teacher, Biggers, who founded the school’s art program in 1949. He completed his undergraduate degree at TSU and went on to get his MFA at Washington State University. He returned two years later to teach art at TSU for 34 years before retiring in 2007.

A selection of works scheduled for the exhibition includes:

  • John Biggers… Our Grandmother, How I Got Over
  • Harvey Johnson… The Welcoming Table, Walk Together Children, Eulogy, 1921 (Tulsa)
  • Delita Martin… Walk with Me, Bloodline, My Sisters Keeper
  • Kermit Oliver… Burnt Church.

For additional information on the lectureship and exhibit, contact the seminary at 918-610-8303. For media inquiries, contact Kurt Gwartney at or by calling 918-270-6470.