A Love Letter to New Orleans

The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, New York City, United States
19 Oct 2018 - 25 Nov 2018

Spirit of Red Cloud, glass beads and stones on canvas, Demond Melancon, 2011  --

Spirit of Red Cloud, glass beads and stones on canvas, Demond Melancon, 2011 --

On view from October 19 to November 25 at The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, A Love Letter to New Orleans will feature the works of Big Chief Demond Melancon and Langston Allston–on view at MoCADA (Exterior, Central, and Artery galleries).

This exhibit presents five ceremonial garments made by Big Chief Demond Melancon, chief of The Young Seminole Hunters, never before presented in New York, and eight illustrative works on expansive vinyl by Langston Allston. These two artists offer an intimate sensibility, energized by the Crescent City in which they first met. Their affection for New Orleans, guided by different perspectives, convenes at their unique friendship which has inspired the other’s artistic journey, whether contemporary or ancestral, ever since. Big Chief Demond’s pieces are made in the traditional master style of Black Masking Culture–a history 200-years in the making– with contemporary aesthetic influences and storytelling rendered in intricate hand-sewn beadwork. Allston’s drawings on found vinyl chronicle the life-force and history of a city’s havens and hells and a geographical cornerstone of the African Diaspora. As an exhibit, A Love Letter to New Orleans navigates the loaded conversations revolving around the city and its constituents as told through the insider/outsider combined experiences of Melancon and Allston. More than this, through A Love Letter the pair pay a great respect to the storied past of New Orleans while offering up a lens into its bright, new future.

Demond Melancon is a multidisciplinary contemporary artist and performer with extensive roots in the Black Masking Culture of New Orleans. With a career spanning almost three decades, Melancon is well-known for his meticulous hand-sewn beadwork used to create massive Mardi Gras Indian suits which are composed of intricately beaded patches depicting actual and imagined events from African and American history. His complex and multidimensional portrayals draw inspiration from indigenous people in America, enslaved Africans, and inspirational leaders from history. His work draws from a broad variety of stylistic influences, features imagery rich with symbolism and meaning, addresses stereotypical representations of black people, and tells powerful stories from his experience of the African Diaspora.

Langston Allston is a painter and muralist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He uses his art practice as a way to tell stories, drawn from personal experience, and from the experiences of people in his community. His work provides an opportunity to reflect on these shared moments and histories, and to connect a thread between the past and the present. Allston is a participating artist to the murals outside the Alton Sterling memorials in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Habana Works is the charitable extension of the Habana Restaurant Group founded by Sean Meenan. Incorporating the Group’s core ideals, Habana Works strives to spread love and connect communities through art, environmentalism, shared experiences, and philanthropic giving. Its programming ranges from free children’s events and environmentally friendly markets to artist sponsorships and direct donations to local charities. In this case, Habana Works is proud to work with MoCADA, Langston, and Demond to both showcase their incredible art for the entire MoCADA community and to spread a little New Orleans Love up the Brooklyn way.

For all press inquiries, please contact: amy@mocada.org, Programming & Development anastasia@mocada.org, Exhibitions Coordinator sophia@mocada.org, Fellow richard@mocada.org.


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