OKLAHOMA CITY - The artist behind the popular local exhibit "Oklahoma is Black" was in town Thursday night to talk about the impact of her work. 

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh had the attention of a full house in the atrium of her passion project, as she answered questions posed by the director of Stanford University's Institute for Diversity in the Arts, A-lan Holt.

“This regular everyday black person here in Oklahoma, in the middle of the country, this is who an American is,” Fazlalizadeh explained to me ahead of the event.

As a Northeast Oklahoma City native now living in New York, Fazlalizadeh wanted to capture the stories of her friends, family and neighbors, who are not often reflected in art.

“It’s doing something that I think we should all be doing every day,” the artist said, “uplifting the lives and the voices of everyday folks and what we go through and what we experience.”

Holt added, “I think not only does it do this beautiful celebratory and uplifting and centering work, but it also really pushes us to have the conversations we aren’t having.”

The Thursday conversation was one of many interactive events at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts exhibit, enlightening a diverse crowd on the challenges and triumphs of life as a black Oklahoman. Visitors can hear and read the subjects' stories themselves through the interviews Fazlalizadeh conducted before putting brush to canvas.

Her goal now is to expand the exhibit for a national audience to see, the importance of which Holt says cannot be denied.

“I think your work just brings us in,” Holt told Fazlalizadeh. “It’s a beautiful invitation.”

You can see the exhibit at the State Fairgrounds through May 26.