Mardi Gras. A staple to the culture and city of New Orleans. To the naked eye, Mardi Gras is a crazy, colorful festival that occurs each year in February or March. But to New Orleans and Louisiana natives, it is much more than a festival. Mardi Gras has intertwined itself into the lives of these individuals, especially for Jeanna Aultman.
For Jeanna Aultman, carnival season infuses into her daily job. She lives and breathes all things carnival, year-round. As a Mardi Gras creative, Aultman has a difficult time describing exactly what she does. When one asks Aultman what she does, she might say, “I build things for Mardi Gras.” Unless you’re a New Orleans native or frequent Mardi Gras goer, Aultman’s work might seem like a foreign concept to you. Aultman meticulously builds the headdresses and wireframing for collars that are seen throughout the Mardi Gras parades. She is particularly very skilled in the pluming and wiring of the collar pieces she creates. She ultimately is the brains, and hands, behind many of the lavish Mardi Gras costumes that parade through the streets during carnival.
However, Aultman’s work isn’t all individual. Her job requires a great deal of collaboration with others to create the extravagant pieces. This collaboration spans across the world, from Florida to China and beyond. The mutual love for Mardi Gras throughout the city is what fuels her work. For Aultman, though, many individuals “don’t realize how much work goes into a single piece” of her work. While the intricate and detailed work might not always be noticed, her creative industry shares a mutualism for the unique labor to which they commit.
This unity is ever so present today, even with COVID lingering in the air. Luckily for Aultman and her team, they made it through the carnival season before COVID hit. However, as the year goes on and Mardi Gras comes back around the corner, Aultman explains, “For us, it’s, it’s, like, we’ll make the outfits. And so it’s possible that they don’t get worn this year.” With the unknown lingering, Aultman will continue to focus on her craft and fulfill contracts. Aultman won’t stop her work, even if COVID cancels Mardi Gras. She will continue to pour her heart and soul into her unique work, day after day.