Discovering artists in Tulsa, Oklahoma is unlikely considering there are very few galleries or curators traveling to historical Black Wall Street to find burgeoning artistic talent, but artist Natalie Lauren is one native who is ready to be seen and heard.
“Statistics suggest that where I'm from, you aren't to be found,” Lauren tells EBONY. “Although the city is rich in culture, the fullness of our story is often overshadowed by the trauma of 1921 and not inclusive of the inspiring inception of one of America’s first Black utopias which is rich in art and culture.”
Now Lauren has gone from Black Wall Street to King Street. Her original art piece, Pink Dream, is part of curator Mashonda Tifrere’s partnership with Christie's Private Sales in London, part of a powerful exhibition that marked a month dedicated to the celebration of women around the world.
Tifrere, an author, singer, songwriter and activist, DM'd the artist via Instagram and invited her to be a part of Tifrere's platform, Art LeadHER, which has challenged patriarchal history and championed the professional development of marginalized female artists since its 2016 launch. Its latest exhibition, Note to Self, features 15 womxn artists who embody feminine sovereignty through their work.
“This moment in time for me is a reality for what is and hope for what can be,” Lauren says of her inclusion on the platform. “It is a reminder and call to action in what it means to create a space for radical generosity. I never imagined my unconventional path leading me to Christie’s, but I am also mindful of the importance of our stories and art finding their truest value at home first.”
Lauren credits her visibility on a global stage to the community that inspired and sustained her in Tulsa as a Black queer creative. She was also supported by Tulsa Remote, a program that encourages remote workers to move or live in the area, leading the way for everyday professionals and entrepreneurs to view possibility and create societal change through place-based innovation.
“I hope that exposure is a tool towards equity and empowerment through representation,” Lauren shares, especially in a city where "economic opportunity and justice remain as key opportunities. I have somehow been plucked out of a sea of immense talent and been allowed to find solitude in my hometown as a creative entrepreneur.”
Note to Self runs through April 15, 2023, in London, UK.