Who: Caroline Thomas
What: Painter, headdress maker, and float designer
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: Satsuma Café: where it was warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the sun
Q: What do you think is the biggest confession you’ve ever made?
A: I’m a very private person, so it’s hard to think of what I would have confessed publicly. You know, it was probably something I did completely drunk on Mardi Gras that I can’t fully remember.
There isn’t one particular story that makes me think: that was the most epic confession I ever made on Mardi Gras, but every Mardi Gras you have those moments when you realize ‘This is my city, and this is actually going on.’
As far as straight confessions, it’s probably me drunkenly admitting love to someone. That’s possibly not interesting to anyone but me, but that’s often what happens. It doesn’t even have to be Mardi Gras for me to do that.
And these are face-to-face confessions of love because my text messages are not comprehensible enough to be too damning. My confessions are probably not as articulate as I think, but in that moment when I’m face-to-face with people, it sounds so on point to me.
Q: If you were allowed to turn a painting into a performance piece, what painting would you choose?
A: I mostly do float paintings right now, and I love tableaus. It would be really cool to do a full-on elaborate tableau of Picasso’s Guernica. That would be insane to do that with cubism – to try and interpret that in a three-dimensional space. That would be really cool and interesting.
You have to imagine that someone has turned paintings into performance pieces. I know there was one artist that turned Gustav Klimt’s paintings into something like that with real life people. I just think that cubism would be really fascinating and also really difficult. It would probably only work on one angle. Still, that would be incredibly interesting.
Q: What’s something odd that inspired you to travel to a place?
A: I guess the whole reason I moved back to New Orleans – I’m from Baton Rouge – is that I was living in Ohio and debating moving back. I kept having these reoccurring dreams that were really intense.
There were dreams where it was Mardi Gras, and I couldn’t get to the parade. They were all these anxiety dreams where I couldn’t find my keys or I didn’t know the location, and those dreams were crazy symbolic for me. Right then I knew it was a sign.
Clearly on a subconscious level I was supposed to come back, and when I was in Ohio Randy Morrison posted the job about working on Hermes. I wish I would have kept a copy of that job posting. It said something like, ‘If you want to be underappreciated and overworked but also the hero behind the scenes of Carnival, then this is the job for you.’ It was a ‘fight the good fight’ kind of posting for a job. Randy has the best way with words. That was when it all fell into place for me. I had a job lined up and my dreams were telling me to go.
I guess this even carries over into my costuming as well – starting with something odd and going from there. My costume this year began with the odd desire to have a mirror on my Mardi Gras costume. I wanted people to see themselves when they looked at me, so the costume has this giant mirrored eye, and that kept growing into something. That was all based around the odd idea that I wanted people to see themselves.
Q: If your hair could be made out of a different material, what would you choose?
A: If we aren’t talking about sustainability then cotton candy would be amazing. You could do the most amazing bouffants. You’d probably have to adopt the whole persona to go along with that, which means you’d have to realize that you’re going to be dressed in candy theme outfits everyday. Still, that would be amazing. And, I think I’d have to go with the blue and pink swirl for the hair coloring.
If I had to choose something that wasn’t going to melt in the rain then I’d choose some type of plant life. A type of moss– again this would be pretty high maintenance since you’d start balding or building an ecosystem in there if you weren’t taking care of it properly. Maybe I could be growing moss on my head if I was trying hard enough.
I could one day be an eccentric old lady and moss hair could be my thing.
Caroline Thomas has designed and painted for Proteus, Chaos, Krewe d’état, and will be designing Rex in the coming years. She also designs and sells headdresses in various locations. To learn more about her and her creations, you can visit her website, as well as follow her on Instagram .