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.