Greenwood, Tulsa, Black Wall Street, Historic Greenwood District, African American History, Black History, The Oklahoma Eagle, Greenwood

The Art & Soul of Dawn Tree’s AMERICANA

Dawn Tree, Americana, African American Art, African American Artist, Black Art, Black Artist, Greenwood, Tulsa, Black Wall Street, Dawn, The Oklahoma Eagle, Oklahoma Eagle

 

The Oklahoma Eagle Staff

The Oklahoma Eagle


PHOTO

Dawn Tree, speaking with attendees at her AMERICANA exhibition. By Ross D. Johnson

AMERICANA artist Dawn Tree’s recent exhibition, hosted by Vast Bank in the Historic Greenwood District throughout the month of June, closing July 7, possesses the depth, meaningful textures, and visual experience that only Tree can imagine and create. Inspired in 2017 by the spirit of Tulsa, OK and a deep reflection on America’s relationship with Black Wall Street, Tree began to create and evolve the Americana: Red, White & Blue theme. A Juneteenth Chat With The Artist event on June 16 offered the public an opportunity to learn more about the artist, her work, and reflections of how Black Americans are the thread tightly woven through the fabric of American culture. The myriad facets of the self-described abstract surrealist painter, graphic artist, author, storyteller, journalist, spoken word artist, educator, DJ (PinkyJoy) and owner of art studio Underground Tree Studios, were on full display this Summer evening.

Dawn Tree, Americana, African American Art, African American Artist, Black Art, Black Artist, Greenwood, Tulsa, Black Wall Street, Dawn, The Oklahoma Eagle, Oklahoma Eagle
AMERICANA VII: OKLAHOMA HISTORICALLY BLACK, DAWN TREE. 45in. x 27in., Latex Acrylic, aerosol, American flag, lighter, mirror, light bulb on wood I drew John Mercer Langston who Langston, OK the town and university are named after. He was a black Virginia educator prominent in public affairs who organized the 1st Department at Howard University. The woman is Ada Lois Sipuel, the first African American to attend University Oklahoma law school when they were legally forced to admit her in 1948. Oklahoma is rich. Rich. The wood was found in New York, shaped like Oklahoma, had to upcycle it. PHOTO BY ROSS D. JOHNSON, THE OKLAHOMA EAGLE

 

Tree engaged event attendees throughout the evening, detailing the creative journey of each well-received work. Americana’s mixed media composition was built upon informally sourced wood, Tree’s signature drip paint abstract form and guided by her spirit. Of her work and form, she cited Jackson Pollock, “There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end”, reminding patrons of the natural and genuine beauty of abstract art.

Dawn Tree, Americana, African American Art, African American Artist, Black Art, Black Artist, Greenwood, Tulsa, Black Wall Street, Dawn, The Oklahoma Eagle, Oklahoma Eagle
GREENWOOD GROWS, DAWN TREE, 40 in. x 49 in., Latex Acrylic, aerosol, turtle shell, butterfly, branch on wood, sealed in epoxy This painting is a passion project for Greenwood; for those currently and all the ancestors who forged a way and fought to preserve our history. From the very beginning of time, the tree has been represented to aid in nourishment, sustenance and keep life. This tree is wrapped in many parts that allow for it to stand strong. Starting from the bottom, this tree’s roots are withstanding heavy blazes of fire. PHOTO BY ROSS D. JOHNSON, THE OKLAHOMA EAGLE

 

“Panther Spirit”, the artist shared, was inspired “while watching a documentary I saw the panther on the baby blue background and that color just brought a softer peace to my soul.” The core palette of the work, like all that comprised the series, captured Tree’s sentiment regarding freedom, “a state of mind as true physical and financial freedom for African Americans can be limited compared to other Americans.” 

“Black Gold” (2019), a depiction of the architecture that remains along the historic Greenwood and Archer avenues highlights the community and economic brilliance of the 1920s Black Wall Street era in gold. Tree, in the role of visual historian, added striking applications of red to border the avenues, representing the blood and lives lost during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. 

The St. Louis, Missouri native earned a BA in Journalism and minored in African Studies while attending the University of Oklahoma. The artist-in-residence and global exhibition feature has raised the credibility of each venue upon whose walls her work has been displayed. Ghana, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, and New Jersey are amongst the many countries, cities and states that have exhibited her work.  

Dawn Tree, Americana, African American Art, African American Artist, Black Art, Black Artist, Greenwood, Tulsa, Black Wall Street, Dawn, The Oklahoma Eagle, Oklahoma Eagle
TOP IMAGE. PANTHER SPIRIT, DAWN TREE. 24in. x48in., Latex Acrylic, aerosol, beehive on wood. The Black Panther Party is a political organization founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale to challenge police brutality against the African American community. While watching a documentary I saw the panther on the baby blue background and that color just brought a softer peace to my soul. That inspired this piece. Freedom must be a thought, a state of mind as true physical and financial freedom for African Americans can be limited compared to other Americans. PHOTO BY ROSS D. JOHNSON, THE OKLAHOMA EAGLE

 

See Also
Greenwood, Tulsa, Black Wall Street, Historic Greenwood District, African American History, Black History, The Oklahoma Eagle, Greenwood

In Tree’s work, one may discover the conflict that exists between American ideals and the realities of Black communities. The creative’s visual artistry, reflected in Americana, may remind patrons of the late Sam Gilliam’s use of wood and applied materials in “Red Line” (1995), “On Yellow Wood” (2003) and “Chinese” (1993). Inspired by Pollack, both Gilliam and Tree moved about their canvases guided by a spirit that offers a brief glimpse of their soul’s engagement with the world around them. 

Beyond the Vast Bank exhibition, Tree will continue to pursue opportunities to share the voice and soul of the Historic Greenwood District. For art patrons, the Americana experience is one of many that reinforces the need for diverse expressions by diverse creatives. 

 

 

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