What is it about the culture of New Orleans that makes New Orleans so unique? While New Orleans has, perhaps, some of the best food in the country, it’s also a melting pot of art and architectural design. If you are visiting the city or just take the time to truly observe your surroundings, it is clear that color is in abundance. Houses that are painted yellow and purple, graffiti across the facade of buildings, and murals of idols in the community help make up what the culture of New Orleans is really about. Various countries have had a tremendous amount of influence on the art in New Orleans. These influences are vital to the way we perceive art within the city.
I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Andrea Baudy, who has been living in New Orleans her whole life. It was extremely meaningful and rewarding to speak to someone my age, and hear about the impact art and the city, in general, have played in the way she goes about her life. Growing up, she was always exposed to the wonderful art that encompasses the city.
“When I was young my mother would take me to Julia Street to see different pieces of art. All the murals around the city have always caught my attention, my favorite is the sculpture garden in the New Orleans Museum of Art,” Baudy says. She spoke about how amazing the evolution of art has been in the city. For example, the evolution of graffiti, as it used to be viewed, compared to how it is visualized today.
Graffiti was always viewed as, more or less, a pity way of displaying art and was never necessarily given enough credit for the effort and meaning behind its framework. However, as Baudy explains, graffiti has become massive in the city, and it has been able to portray many major figures in the city’s history. The artwork contains ample color that makes it pop, for anyone who is passing by. All art contains a message, especially when it is portrayed in a place where so many people can view it.
Baudy also worked at Studio Be, which is a “35,000 square foot warehouse filled with mural-style art by the local artist, B Mike. Located at, exactly, 29, 41 Boyle street, it is the third installation of the ‘B’ series. The first was Exhibit B, the second was Project B and the third is Studio Be. It is one of the longest running solo shows in the United States. All of the art inside the warehouse is a reflection of B Mike’s experience as a black man.” There are various types of art work in Studio Be. There are a few statues, some interactive pieces of art that are unique to B Mike, and plenty of spray painted work.
As stated by Baudy, Studio Be does a great job of portraying the evolution of art in New Orleans. Art, in general, could be viewed as just painting or the use of a paint brush. However, now it has turned into a broader more free area of discovery and utilization of items, like aerosol cans. To see graffiti being shown off in a positive light, not in a rebellious manner, is reflective of the way art has evolved here. It really shows the respect people have come to obtain for artistry, talent and dedication.
Art Work makes appearances all throughout the city and at many designated events, like the numerous festivals New Orleans is so known for. For example, at Jazz Fest, the field ground is covered in tents where individual artists display and sell their art. There is a lot of take-away from experiencing Studio Be. Some experience it and leave crying as the art has so much meaning and deep quotes from historical, racial figures.
“A lot of pieces in there are really bold and they make huge statements about racial injustice and just racism in our country, which can be tough to be faced with. I believe people are grateful of the art, and although it could be challenging to take in, most find it rewarding.”