Public Art Dedicated at Ralph Ellison Library


The Metropolitan Library System will unveil a new piece of public art at the Ralph Ellison Library, 2000 N.E. 23rd Street.  The work by sculptor David Phelps is called “The Invisible Royalty” and will be dedicated at a ceremony that is open to the public at the Ralph Ellison Library on Thursday, February 9, at 3:00 p.m.

The guest speaker will be Dr. Melvin Todd, who is Special Assistant to the President, Langston University.  The artist will be on hand and the proceedings will be hosted by Ralph Ellison Library Manager of Library Operations Michael Owens.  After the sculpture is unveiled, sculptor David Phelps will hold a question and answer session.

The sculpture represents a likeness of young Ralph Ellison emerging from the first page of his novel “Invisible Man.” Phelps chose a young Ellison because it was in his youth that the author had the strongest connection to Oklahoma City.

Ralph Ellison Library is named for the late author who was born in Oklahoma City in 1904 and grew up here.  Ralph Ellison Library is a primary information source and main center of community activities for Northeast Oklahoma City. 

In the sculpture, the page with Ellison’s likeness emerging from the typewriter is made of bronze, the typewriter is primarily fabricated steel and the key faces are vitreous china. The typewriter rests atop a stack of Ellison books that also serves as a shelf from which library books can be checked out. Above the sculpture are two pages floating up out of the typewriter. The image of Ellison appears to turn and follow the viewer’s movements.

Sculptor David Phelps was born in Stockton, CA, in 1956. “I grew up on a farm,” he writes, “where the fields became an extension of oneself. I continue to live in the wide open spaces of Oklahoma where my sculptural images expand to include their environments as part of the experience.”

For more information about this or any Metropolitan Library System program, visit the MLS website, 

The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County includes 13 libraries and five extension libraries. Libraries include Belle Isle, Capitol Hill, Patience S. Latting Northwest, Ralph Ellison, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, and Southern Oaks in Oklahoma City, as well as Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Village and Warr Acres. Extensions are located in the communities of Harrah, Jones, Luther and Nicoma Park and include Wright Library in Oklahoma City. You can also reach us at