The West Baton Rouge Museum presents a new exhibition entitled Mardi Gras Indians: By J. Nash Porter. The exhibit, which runs from January 6, 2018 through February 25, 2018, features a selection of full color photographs documenting the rich tradition of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians and second line groups.
J. Nash Porter was born in New Orleans and raised in an Uptown neighborhood surrounded by the sights and sounds of the urban streets. His career combines documentary and commercial photography, and photo-journalism. “Through the lens of my camera, I share with others the exciting tradition that I grew up with. Hopefully, I can ignite a spark of enthusiasm and bring about an awareness in other communities for the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians,” said Porter in a past interview. Formally trained at San Francisco State University and the University of California at Berkeley, Porter owned and operated a photography studio since 1972. Although his most prolific work was with the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians, his photographic exhibits encompass an amalgam of African American blues and jazz musicians, and traditional cultures of the American South, West Africa, and the Caribbean. Porter passed away in 2007 but his images continue to captivate audiences across the globe.
On February 1, 2018, the West Baton Rouge Museum will open a new exhibition Créoles du Monde which explores the Créole world and culture from Africa and Europe to the Americas. Créoles du Monde celebrates the vibrant culture of Créole people through the eyes of the historians, collectors, artists, and photographers who have captured a rich history in textiles, rare paintings and photographs. This exhibit, which includes works from the collections of Jeremy Simien, Derrick Beard, Ulrick Jean-Pierre, Jeremiah Ariaz and Mary Gehman, will run through May 6th.
Scholars have debated the definition of Créole for over a hundred years. Depending on where you are and who you ask different answers are presented. In the United States, it refers exclusively to the people and culture of South Louisiana. But the word has a broader meaning throughout the Americas. Créole derives from the 17th century Portuguese word crioulo, used to refer to enslaved Africans born in the New World. In Louisiana, the meaning was later broadened to distinguish upper class families of European descent from the English-speaking Americans moving south after the Louisiana Purchase. World-wide, Créole has come to mean the cultures found in regions shaped by African, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Indigenous influences. A common thread that ties all Créole cultures together is the production of sugar.
On March 3, 2018 the West Baton Rouge Museum will open a new exhibition entitled Fait à la Main: The Acadian Handicraft Project. This exhibit will feature traditional Acadian handiwork such as brown cotton woven textiles, hand sewing and wood crafts created by Louisiana artisans who participated in the handicraft project. Crafts produced by modern artisans will also be featured to show how Acadian traditions are being kept alive today.
The Acadian Handicraft Project began in 1942 and was based at Louisiana State University. Its purpose was to support French language and culture in Louisiana. Field representative Louise Olivier traveled the state purchasing crafts, mostly textiles, from Acadians and marketed them for sale. The project provided a sales outlet and source of income to Acadian women who had not previously worked outside the home, as well as encouraged craftspeople to continue the traditions involved in creating these pieces. Mrs. Olivier worked with internationally known writers and magazines, providing them material about Acadian culture that would help to promote the Acadian Handicraft Project. The Acadian Handicraft Project was at the height of its popularity in 1962 when Louise Olivier passed away, but the seeds for CODOFIL, the Council for Development of French in Louisiana, were planted and the traditions of Acadian craftwork were preserved. This exhibit is based on research conducted by the LSU Textile and Costume Museum and runs through August 5, 2018.
In honor of the West Baton Rouge Museum’s 50th Anniversary, the West Baton Rouge Historical Association is opening the vault to display objects from our collection that document the rich cultural history of our parish. Many of these objects will be on display for the first time!
Louisiana folk artist Malaika Favorite is known for her creative interpretations of history. In her latest series, Washboard City, scrub-boards are used as a symbol of the hard work, discipline, and determination of black women in the south.