Laissez le bon temps rouler!
I’ve got New Orleans on my mind, so I thought I’d use today’s post to shine a light on the art that’s being made in the Crescent City today. Steeped in tradition, plagued by disaster and portrayed as a crown jewel of urban renewal, New Orleans is a multifaceted and deeply complex city. The artists highlighted here challenge us to look at NOLA in new ways.
As a social activist, artist and video director Brandan Odums does not see roadblocks as challenges, he views them as opportunities. He turned an abandoned Ninth Ward Housing Project into an art installation transforming the building into a space for artistic and social commentary. While doing so he exposed a legacy of Katrina that’s ignored in a city struggling to redefine itself as a triumphant example of urban revival. Over 100,000 African-Americans were displaced from New Orleans after Katrina, and New Orleans East has been one of the slowest areas to recover. Many of the economic, educational, social and political challenges plaguing the city still remain.
In November 2014, ExhibitBE became a cultural hub for 30+ artists and thousands of visitors to experience a unique space in time where art and activism honored the past while preparing itself for the future. The exhibition site officially closed in early 2015, however this month Odums will unveil new warehouse exhibition space located in Bywater called StudioBE. The space will showcase new murals and large scale canvas paintings.
Noirlinians is an AfroFashion blog that explores the connections between identity, cultural expression, voice and style. The site was created by clothing designer Denisio Truitt and spoken word artist Mwende Katwiwa who harmonize their creative talents within this deeply personal blog. I particularly love that their posts are accompanied by a soundtrack that sets the lyrical stage for the content.
The blog also cultivates a creative collective of photographers whose work is featured in Denisio and Mwende’s posts. Many of these photographers are currently being shown in a group exhibition at the McKenna Museum in partnership with PhotoNOLA. The show runs through February 27th, 2016.
The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.