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Siana Ọrun-Walker on Thelma Johnson Streat

“To have compassion in a world that doesn't have compassion for you...”

When THELMA JOHNSON STREAT's "Rabbit Man" was acquired by MOMA, it was the first painting by a Black woman shown by a major museum. Despite her success, one of her murals brought death threats from the KKK and was quickly erased from history. Still, this prolific, wide-ranging artist found deep wells of compassion for humanity, especially kids. Thelma's life and work inspire artist Siana Ọrun-Walker, especially the work to defeat hatred and find unity. Watch this gorgeous story, so relevant to our present moment.

Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.

Storyteller

Siana Ọrun-Walker

Siana Ọrun-Walker is a Shamanistic Songstress/Mediumistic Artist who blends Ancient chants and modern music to create a sound that uplifts the spirit and inspires the soul. In her duo Xantablack her and her creative partner Xatu facilitate Sonic Trance and Voice Activation experiences across the globe that create a DMT like experience, by channeling sounds of the divine to create healing talismans that provide comfort in the darkness. Xiana uses ancient sounds and universal frequency’s that are scientifically proven to open up neural pathways and heal cells on a molecular level. She also facilitates healings, workshops, and rituals in Los Angeles. Xiana has studied the Yoruba Spiritual System Ifá and is an initiated Iyanifa and Olorisha/Osun Priestess. She received her title in Lagos, Nigeria by Chief Solagbade Popoola. She has trained with Priest and Priestess in different parts of the world including Los Angeles, New Orleans, Brazil, and Africa. Her travels inspired her to create a platform called Living The Alchemist were she travels the world learning indigenous practices and music by engulfing herself in different cultures and spiritual systems.

Featured Woman

Thelma Johnson Street

Born in rural Washington, Thelma always knew that art was in her blood and what she would do. She studied briefly and traveled, creating dance pieces, paintings and children’s books. Her painting, “Rabbit Man”, was purchased by MOMA for their permanent collection–their first purchase of an African-American woman’s art. Her painting “Death of a Negro Sailor,” was the catalyst that caused the KKK to threaten her. Her response to this aggression was to create the “Negro in History” youth program. She traveled the world and educated youth through art, visuals, and movement. Thelma was able to overcome intense racism and hatred and instead used art to unlock the doors to our healing.