Ogden Museum of Southern Art first launched Louisiana Contemporary, presented by The Helis Foundation in 2012, to establish a vehicle that would bring to the fore the work of artists living in Louisiana and highlight the dynamism of art practice throughout the state. Since the inaugural exhibition over ten years ago, Ogden Museum has shown works by 489 artists, making Louisiana Contemporary an important moment in the national arts calendar to recognize and experience the spectrum and vitality of artistic voices emanating from New Orleans and in art communities across Louisiana.
This statewide, juried exhibition promotes the contemporary art practices in the state of Louisiana, provides an exhibition space for the exposition of living artists’ work and engages a contemporary audience that recognizes the vibrant visual arts culture of Louisiana and the role of New Orleans as a rising, international art center.
This year’s guest juror is Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has selected 51 works by 49 Louisiana artists.
The Helis Foundation Art Prize for Best in Show: Joshua Mintz
I Can Hear Your Dirt, 2021, Wood, foam, plaster, fabric, resin, polymer clay, LEDs, Arudino, scritta, dna, porcelain, insulation, cotton
First Place: Madison Spinner
Checker Print Kitchen, Super 8 film videography
Second Place: Laura Welter
Patterns of Our Skin: Stars and Flowers, Wood panel, fabrics, quilt blocks, crewel embroidery, collage, glue, acrylic paint, oil paint
Third place: Trenity Thomas
Loyalty, 2020, Acrylic paint, cloth, cardboard
Differences, 2020, Acrylic paint, 24 x 48 inches
Honorable Mention: Ben Depp
A Life Ring Floats Near a Wrecked Boat After Hurricane Ida. Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, 2021, 2021, Pigment print made from aerial photograph
Becky & Wyatt Collins
Jessie & Beau Haynes
Stuart B. Hurt
Roger H. Ogden & Ken Barnes
Charles D. Urstadt & David Bernard
Erica J. Washington
Alluvium Ensemble in collaboration with the New York New Music Ensemble
Luis Cruz Azaceta
Generic Art Solutions
Shannon Landis Hansen
Zoe Mariana Johnson
Valerie Cassel Oliver is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Prior to her position at the VMFA, she was Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2000 – 2017). She has served as director of the Visiting Artist Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1995-2000) and a program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts (1988-1995). In 2000, she served as one of six curators selected to organize the Biennial for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
During her tenure at the CAMH, Cassel Oliver organized numerous exhibitions including the acclaimed Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970 (2005); Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970 with Dr. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2009); and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art (2012). She has also mounted significant survey exhibitions for Benjamin Patterson, Donald Moffett, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jennie C. Jones, Angel Otero and Annabeth Rosen.
Her 2018 debut exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was the five-decade survey of work by Howardena Pindell entitled, Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen. The exhibition, co-organized with Naomi Beckwith, was mounted for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and named one of the most influential of the decade. At the VMFA, Cassel Oliver organized the exhibition, Cosmologies from the Tree of Life that featured over thirty newly acquired works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Most recently, she opened the exhibition, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture and the Sonic Impulse, to critical acclaim. The exhibition opened in Richmond May, 2021 and is currently touring through January, 2023.
Cassel Oliver is the recipient of a Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship (2007); a fellowship from the Center of Curatorial Leadership (2009); the High Museum of Art’s David C. Driskell Award (2011); the Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg Foundation-to-Life Fellowship at Hunter College (2016) and the James A. Porter Book Award from Howard University (2018). From 2016-17, she was a Senior Fellow in Curatorial Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and, in Spring 2020, she served with Hamza Walker as a Fellow for Viewpoints at the University of Texas at Austin.
Most recently, Cassel Oliver was named the recipient of the 2022 Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence from The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and the awardee of the College Arts Association’s 2022 Excellence in Diversity Award. In March, 2022, she accepted the Alain Locke International Art Award from the Detroit Institute for the Arts.
Cassel Oliver holds an Executive MBA from Columbia University, New York; an M.A. in art history from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a B.S. in communications from the University of Texas at Austin.
Undertaking the role of juror is always a daunting task. On one hand, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about the arts community of a particular place. On the other, it brings with it some anxiety because – is it really possible to gauge the full vitality of such a dynamic community? The reality is no…it is not possible, however, what was possible to do, was to compose a cross-section, a vibrant composite of this community. What is presented in the exhibition and within the pages of this accompanying publication makes for a compelling story. Overall, I selected works that “spoke” to me…that affirmed and, in some cases, pushed the boundaries of genres like painting, photography and sculpture. In their totality, the collective works offer a foray into the zeitgeist of the contemporary moment.
Since the last Louisiana Contemporary, the nation and the global community continue to grapple with a global pandemic and the crippling realities of health and economic disparities; the ongoing barbarism of racism; catastrophic climate change; political crisis and a profound lack of civility. On so many levels the works selected have wrestled with the issues inherent in current encounters and /or the residual experiences of the past two years. Moreover, each artist has dealt with the enormity of those issues and the anxiety of uncertainty through their own unique visual language.
Artists have always sought to frame the world and its crisis by either providing a window into the beauty that can sustain us or to the horror that compels us. What is also visible within the selections here…are the effects of these crisis upon our lives – the loss, isolation and revelations.
Now, more than ever, we need art that is deliberate and intentional.
It has been an immense honor to serve as juror for this exhibition and to encounter new artists as well as celebrate those that I know well. Congratulations. And to those artists who submitted work but were not selected, your work is no less impactful, and I encourage each of you in your continued practice. It is evident from all concerned that Louisiana has a dynamic community of artists, and it is simply inspiring to see its evolution continue.