On February 1, 2018, the West Baton Rouge Museum will open a new exhibition Creoles du Monde which explores the Creole world and culture from Africa and Europe to the Americas. Creoles du Monde celebrates the vibrant culture of Creole 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 5th.
Scholars have debated the definition of Creole 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. Creole 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, Creole has come to mean the cultures found in regions shaped by African, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Indigenous influences. A common thread that ties all Creole cultures together is the production of sugar.