Prospect New Orleans is pleased to announce its newest public art commission, Artists of Public Memory. This inaugural initiative invites artists born and/or based in Louisiana to share their visions of how symbols, monuments, and collective memories can appear and function in our landscape, society, and public space.
After a statewide nomination process, three projects engaging the work of nine contemporary artists have been selected to be presented in New Orleans later this year. All three of these projects interrogate and reimagine collective memory and representation in a state with a history that is both complex and spellbinding, violent and revolutionary. The selected projects include:
An Intertribal Collective, comprised of Ida Aronson, Dr. Tammy Greer, Jenna Mae, Ozone 504, Virginia Richard, and Monique Verdin, will build an earthen mound to honor our ancestors and anchor our future. The project will include native plant gardens and a stickball field, providing pathways to health and healing, as well as a site for contemporary Indigenous lifeways and communal gatherings.
kai lumumba barrow will construct an “abolitionist playground,” bringing attention to sites of carceral control while engaging counter-narratives of play and creative imagination. The project will consist of a series of sculptural installations that give physical form to the institutional ramifications of racism and modes of survival and resistance.
Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun will create a photographic sculpture of collective memories, including portraits, sounds, spiritual practices, and iconic sites of refuge in the Lower 9th Ward community. Featuring images captured by the artists over the past four decades, the sculpture will reimagine public space and the meaning of place, centering a community that has undergone massive changes over the past two decades.
Each selected artist or collective will receive between $40,000 and $50,000 to produce their projects. Artists will work closely with Curatorial Advisors Shana M. griffin and Monique Verdin, as well as city agencies and community organizations (including the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission), to develop and install these new works of art in prominent public greenspaces across New Orleans.
With initial commission development support from Prospect.5 Co-Artistic Directors, Naima J. Keith, and Diana Nawi, these inaugural projects were selected based on the scale and scope of their work, subject matter, relationship to the locality, and their creative approach to monumentality and public engagement. Distinct from the Prospect.6 exhibition, scheduled to open in Fall 2024, Artists of Public Memory marks the first time Prospect New Orleans has invited Louisiana-based curators and cultural organizations to nominate artists for a public art commission.
Artists of Public Memory is primarily funded by the Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project with additional major funding from the Ford Foundation. Projects will be unveiled throughout 2023 and will include public programming, artist and community talks, youth and educational opportunities, an accompanying publication, and digital resources.
About Prospect New Orleans
Prospect is a New Orleans-based arts organization with a 15-year history of producing a citywide contemporary art triennial in the US, the first exhibition of its kind. Every three years, Prospect invites artists from around the world to create projects in a wide variety of culturally significant venues spread throughout New Orleans. For residents and visitors alike, Prospect is an invitation to experience the city through the eyes of artists. For more information, visit ProspectNewOrleans.org or follow @prospect_nola.