Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Magic of New Orleans

I am just back from a full 10 days in New Orleans. The city never, ever fails to disappoint. Little did I know when I scheduled the trip that  St. Patricks day and Super Sunday would fall during that time. New Orleans is notorious for their masked parades and celebrations. Learning more about the Mardi Gras Indians and their long history was a gift. When I served in the Lower Ninth Ward post Katrina, I kept hearing how all the artifacts, costumes and traditions were "gone." I am happy to report the tradition is back in full force and quite spectacular.  

Wondering what this is all about?

Text  is provided byWikipedia...

Mardi Gras Indians are African-American Carnival revelers in New Orleans, Louisiana, who dress up for Mardi Gras and other special occasions in suits influenced by Native American ceremonial apparel.

 The idea of letting loose and embracing traditional African music and dance is a backbone of the Mardi Gras Indians practice.
Aside from Mardi Gras Day, the most significant day for the Mardi Gras Indians is their Super Sunday. The New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council always has their Indian Sunday on the third Sunday of March, around St. Joseph's Day. 
Mardi Gras Indian suits cost thousands of dollars in materials alone and can weigh upwards of one hundred pounds. A suit usually takes between six to nine months to plan and complete.

  Each Indian designs and creates his own suit; elaborate bead patches depict meaningful and symbolic scenes. Beads, feathers, and sequins are integral parts of a Mardi Gras Indian suit. 

Collectively, their organizations are called "tribes". There are about 38 tribes. They range in size from a half dozen to several dozen members. The tribes are largely independent, but a pair of umbrella organizations loosely coordinate the Uptown Indians and the Downtown Indians.

If you want to learn more, check out The House of Dance and Feathers website, a cultural museum based on Ronald Lewis's participation in the culture of the Mardi Gras Indians and the keeper of the history.

                           St. Joseph Altar 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Book Updates

I always try to plan for the expected...because it usually happens. This morning I hoped to make a dent into creating the unique encaustics that will be encased in the limited edition, artist made book,
 I was working away and the heat gun began to smoke and the coils on the inside turned an angry red...pretty scary. The studio smells like a burn but happily, I unplugged everything and found myself with time to update the blog.
I can hardly believe it is almost spring. The sun just came out after 4 days of grey, snowy, wintery days and it feels wonderful. One thing I love about living in Chicago is that nothing lasts forever, the seasons are in constant flux which keeps things interesting. 
 I have been spending the last 2-3 months preparing files for my upcoming book, The Burn. It will be published by Kehrer Verlag is will be released this coming fall. After great struggle, I finally decided to write the book  essay with the help of many eyes and ears. It was a true collaboration.
 Natasha Egan of the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago helped me to sequence the work. Her first question was ..."what would you like the first and last photograph to be?"
Everything else fell into place after that. It was an amazing process to see how her keen eye could sort thru 60 some photographs and restore order and grace to the work.
 Walker Blackwell of Latitude ran some proof prints for me. Once the final design decisions are made, he will make another set to send to the publisher for color corrections. I turned all the proofs and text over to  Renata Graw and Jeremiah Chiu of  Plural, a design firm in Chicago. I can't wait to see what they come up with!

 And now I am focusing on a very exciting new venture, creating a limited edition handmade artist book with interdisciplinary book and paper artist, Teresa Pankratz. Teresa has created an amazing structure and design for this book, which is really more like an art object. It  is pure poetry.
I am really thrilled with being able to make / create this with her and look forward to the actually assembly of the book.  The unveiling will be this coming May 17th...stay tuned.

 All of art making is a labor of love and I feel so luck to be in the throws of the creative process.