For more than four decades, Syndey Byrd has employed her mastery of color photography to reign as the preeminent chronicler of the funk, decadence and the cultures in the cradle city of Jazz and R&B. Her iconic photographs are distinguished by their scope of subject, graceful intimacy and exuberant color. The masters of local jazz, R&B, and blues make up a large part of her collection of more than 50,000 stunning images, each one immortalizing a magic moment for generations to come.
The Humanities Program at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) seeks to train young artists to integrate their intellectual and artistic passions. The four-year Humanities curriculum includes many opportunities for students to develop creative projects based on their academic studies. It also regularly partners with professional artists who model this synthesis of creative and intellectual fields in their own work. The works in this exhibit were created by 10th and 11th grade NOCCA Humanities students in partnership with the former Louisiana Poet Laureate and current Distinguished Visiting Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, Brenda Marie Osbey. Each of the works responds to one of the six long narrative poems in her 2013 collection, History and Other Poems, engaging the deep archival and historical associations of those poems. The projects were subsequently shared and further developed through a two-day workshop on NOCCA’s campus with Professor Osbey in the Spring of 2014.
This exhibit of environmental portraits draws us into neighborhoods around New Orleans where jazz music has been nurtured for more than a hundred years. Through a series of environmental portraits with musicians who were mentors as part of the the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park’s Music for All Ages program, Bruce Sunpie Barnes investigates the importance of spiritual homeplaces in a musician’s musical development. From Spiritual and Baptist churches to corner barrooms and public schools, the musicians share the places where they fell in love with the concept of not just having a job, but a lifestyle in music. Many of the buildings are closed due to displacement and rapidly changing population demographics after Hurricane Katrina, as well as the restructuring of New Orleans public schools. As a new generation of musicians comes of age, looking back at these grassroots institutions can be an important map in the preserving of musical cultures of the city. This exhibit comes from a two and a half year collaborative ethnography, “Talk That Music Talk: Passing on Brass Band Music in New Orleans the Traditional Way”, edited by Bruce Sunpie Barnes and Rachel Breunlin, for the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and the Neighborhood Story Project at the University of New Orleans.
This traveling exhibit from the Louisiana State Museum and the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program explores the traditional arts and practices of immigrant cultural communities in the south-eastern, central and northern regions of the state. Louisiana has long been a destination for immigrants seeking educational, professional and economic opportunity, as well as political freedom and safety. Although they may come for a better life, most immigrants stay connected with their culture, often through the traditional foods, dance, music, crafts and celebrations or rituals that they bring to a new home. A Better Life for All provides a window onto Louisiana’s ever-changing cultural landscape through the lens of artistic traditions that illuminate both our cultural uniqueness and universal experiences.
Director Sylvester Francis, a.k.a. Hawk Mini Camera, shares his life’s work, The Backstreet Cultural Museum, with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The exhibit includes famous Jazz Funeral photography and memorabilia, Social Aid and Pleasure Club crafts, second-line mementos, and recorded film footage of New Orleans’ funerals, second-lines, Baby Dolls, Skull and Bone Gangs and Mardi Gras Indians. The Backstreet Cultural Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection related to New Orleans’ African American community-based masking and processional traditions.