Courtesy Prospect New Orleans

Prospect New Orleans Announces New Public Art Commission

07:00 March 27, 2023
By: Arielle Gonzales

Prospect New Orleans is excited to introduce Artists of Public Memory, its newest public art project. Symbols, monuments, and collective memories may exist in our environment, society, and public space in a variety of ways, and this initial effort welcomes artists born and/or living in Louisiana to contribute their thoughts.

Three projects including the work of nine modern artists have been chosen to be shown in New Orleans later this year following a statewide nomination process. In a state with a past that is intricate and enthralling, violent and revolutionary, all three of these projects examine and rethink communal memory and representation.

Ida Aronson, Dr. Tammy Greer, Jenna Mae, Ozone 504, Virginia Richard, and Monique Verdin make up the Intertribal Collective that will construct an earthen mound to remember our past and secure our future. A stickball field and native plant gardens will be part of the project, which will serve as a venue for community meetings and routes to health and healing.

Building a "abolitionist playground," Kai Lumumba Barrow will draw attention to places of carceral control while fostering counter-narratives of play and imaginative creativity. The project will consist of a number of sculptural works that physically represent the institutional effects of racism as well as coping mechanisms and forms of resistance.

Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun will produce a photographic sculpture of shared experiences, which will include images, sounds, religious rituals, and recognizable places of solace in the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood. The sculpture will redefine public space and the idea of place, highlighting a neighborhood that has witnessed significant changes over the previous two decades. It will use pictures the artists have collected over the course of the last four decades.

Between $40,000 and $50,000 will be given to each chosen artist or collective to complete their ideas. To create and install these new works of art in prominent public greenspaces throughout New Orleans, artists will collaborate closely with curatorial advisors Shana M. griffin and Monique Verdin, as well as with city agencies and community organizations (including the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission).

These first projects were chosen based on the size and breadth of their work, subject matter, link to geography, and their innovative approach to monumentality and public interaction with the help of Prospect.5 Co-Artistic Directors Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi. Artists of Public Memory is the first time Prospect New Orleans has solicited Louisiana-based curators and cultural institutions to propose artists for a public art commission. This is in contrast to the Prospect.6 show, which is planned to debut in the fall of 2024.

The Monuments Project of the Mellon Foundation provides the majority of the financing for Artists of Public Memory, with significant support also coming from the Ford Foundation. Public programming, artist and community dialogues, youth and educational activities, an associated book, and digital materials are among the projects that will be released during 2023. How monuments and collective memories may coexist with our landscape, society, and public spaces will be investigated by artists of public memory.

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