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Artist Thomas Mann creates symbol for service

When board member Michael Liebaert was searching for an appropriate gift and tangible symbol to represent Family Service of Greater New Orleans’ “Open Door” Award, he went to the Arts Council of New Orleans for guidance.

On Oct. 23, Family Service will celebrate ten extraordinary individuals at its annual gala and present an engraved crystal award and a specially made piece of jewelry to the honorees.Kirk Stirton, an Arts Council member, suggested the nationally recognized metal-smith, Thomas Mann, create an exclusive, limited edition pin for the event.

“Hearts, hands, houses and keys have long played a role in my designs, due to their status as humanistic icons charged with meaning and emotion,” Mann said.

Mann’s gallery on Magazine Street, in the Lower Garden District, displays a jewelry collection of more than fifty heart designs, some of which include an assemblage of windows, keys and house shapes. When Liebaert entered the gallery for the first time, he was struck by synergy between the theme of the Gala and Mann’s artistry.

“Often, when someone is drawn to a piece of my jewelry, they have their own personal, emotional experience that is based on their life experience,” Mann said.
“The most obvious symbolism is that love is the key to a nurturing and happy home,” he added.

Understanding that the mission of Family Service is supporting individuals and families, Mann had an antique-style, bronze, heart-shaped key, with “F.S. Nola” sculpted into the heart, cast from his hand-carved original. It also symbolically features a stylized New Orleans streetcar for the key teeth.

A second design – a nickel and brass lapel pin in the shape of an open door with a tiny decorative key – was created for patrons who help support Family Service of Greater New Orleans. The pins are signed by the artist and are only available through Family Service.

“I believe an artist’s job is often to celebrate or comment on our human culture and ultimately carry it to the next place. I hope the work I have done for Family Service of Greater New Orleans will help support their efforts and serve their mission.”

The Ten Outstanding Persons Gala will be held Wednesday, Oct. 23. Honorees include Robert Becker, Karen Bollinger DeSalvo, Scott S. Cowen, Ti Martin, Sonia Perez, Anthony Recasner, Dorothy “Dottie” Reese,Carroll Wilson Suggs, Tommie A. Vassel and Guy T. Williams. For ticket information or purchase, visit or call 504-822-0800.

Creations of Thomas Mann for Family Service Gala

Creations of Thomas Mann for Family Service Gala

This article is by Mary Rickard. Please e-mail all comments to


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