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Meet the fellows

In the studio with Kalup Linzy

Tulsa Artist Fellow Kalup Linzy

Destiny Jade Green

Meet the Fellows takes you inside the studios of the 2019 Tulsa Artist Fellowship recipients for a look at their life and work. Since 2015, Tulsa Artist Fellowship has recruited artists and arts workers to Tulsa, where they “have the freedom to pursue their craft while contributing to a thriving arts community.” For more information, visit tulsaartistfellowship.org.  

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The Tulsa Voice: Can you tell us a little about your background and work?

Kalup Linzy: I was born in Clermont, FL, and raised in a small close-knit unincorporated community called Stuckey. I was primarily raised by my grandmother, aunts, uncles and father. My mother battled mental illness and drug addiction, so members of my family stepped in to help. As a child, soap operas were always on and relatives spoke of them as real people. They even told stories of how my great grandmother and her daughter-in-law gathered around the radio to listen to The Guiding Light on radio 15 minutes a day … in high school, I asked my teachers if I could make video soap operas instead of writing a paper, they said yes. In graduate school, I combined elements of the soap opera with comedy, pop culture, music, personal history, video art and performance art developing what became a seminal work, Conversations Wit De Churen II: All My Churen (2005). I continued the series and it led to a substantial amount of opportunities.

TTV: How are you enjoying the life and work of a Tulsa Artist Fellow?
Linzy: Having the weight of housing and studio rent lifted has afforded me the time and space to refocus and shift my energy to projects that were on the back burner. In addition, I am meeting new people and making new friends.

TTV: You’ve collaborated with artists as disparate as James Franco and Jillionaire. Can you talk a little about those partnerships, and how the spirit of collaboration informs your work in general?

Linzy: Franco reached out to me in 2009 after attending one of my lectures. He has supported several projects of mine since then. Jillionaire is also a fan of my work, and I invited him to be a part of one of my latest projects. … Because being a visual artist can be an isolating experience, collaboration allows me to get out of my own head and consider another perspective. The majority of the time, my collaborators are on the same wavelength, and they either bring something to the work I can’t or they assist in expanding the ideas I am mining.

TTV: Any future shows or projects on the horizon you’re excited to share?

Linzy: My web series As Da Art World Might Turn, Season 3, drops later in the year. It stars Jillionaire, local artists and yours truly. Paula Sungstrong: Legend Recordings is an EP for a deceased fictitious character I am recording with local producer Mark Kuykendall, local musician Johnny Mullenax and others. On May 8, 2020, I will be doing a performance at the Philbrook Museum. I am also in talks to do an exhibition at Liggett Studio in June 2020. Those are just a few things I am excited about!