Mary Jane Parker, Glare, 2023, Gouache and graphite on vellum
Michael WilkinsonSupport Louisiana Contemporary 2023
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 twelve years ago, Ogden Museum has shown works by over 500 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, Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, the Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford, has selected 45 works by 31 artists from a total of 790 submissions.
Strange Brute (Hanging from the Poplar Tree) II, ed. 5/12, 2022, Archival print of time-based performance; tree, [Black] artist/activist body, P.G.T. Beauregard piñata, Robert E. Lee piñata, vintage American baseball bat, Haitian flag, burned confederate flag, 40 x 60 inches, Collection of the artist
RAFTERS (Hyppolite + Gilbert), 2021, Mixed media: Tattered New Orleans Saints jerseys, sugar cane, sugar cane leaves, brown cotton, white cotton, indigo, transatlantic slave trade shackles, machete, plexiglass vitrine display case, “Colonial Maple” wooden base, 68 x 32 x 20 inches, Collection of the artist
“…Things Ain’t Always Set in Stone” (Street Lights), ed 1/12, 2022, Archival print of time-based performance; P.G.T. Beauregard piñata, Robert E. Lee piñata, P.G.T. Beauregard Avenue Street sign, Robert E. Lee Boulevard Street sign, red street lights, 52.5 x 35 inches, Collection of the artist
The Death Spa Experience, 2023, HD Video, 7 min 37 sec run time Collection of the artist
Lemon Boy and Cowboy, 2023, Acrylic paint, 60 x 48 x 1.5 inches, Collection of the artist, Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
Whatchu Got?, 2022, Acrylic paint, 48 x 36 x 1 inches, Collection of the artist, Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
Blooming Man, 2022, Photographic print, 30 x 20 inches, Collection of the artist, Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
Friendship Star, 2023, Textile, 23 x 23 x 0.5 inches, Collection of the artist
Log Cabin, 2023, Textile, 22 x 22 x 0.5 inches, Collection of the artist
Nic[o] Brierre Aziz
Mary Jane Parker
Richard Vallon, Jr.
Ariya Aladjem Wolf
The 2023 juror of Louisiana Contemporary, Presented by The Helis Foundation is Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, the Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. She states, “I am thrilled to be selected as the 2023 juror for Louisiana Contemporary, a vital program that showcases the thriving talent and cultural strength of the region’s visual arts. I look forward to supporting Southern art in a meaningful way through a platform that can aid emerging talent and beyond.”
As a curator, Aleesa is committed to providing meaningful platforms for historically excluded artists and opportunities to expand narratives in the history of art through collection building, exhibitions, and community outreach. At the Cantor, she is curator of The Faces of Ruth Asawa (July 2022 – ongoing), East of the Pacific: Making Histories of Asian American Art (Sept. 28, 2022 – Feb. 12, 2023), and The Medium Is the Message: Art since 1950 (Feb. 23, 2019 – ongoing).
Working with assistant professor of art history Marci Kwon, Aleesa is Co-director of the Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI), which is working to transform the Cantor into the preeminent institution for the collection, display, and study of Asian American/Asian diasporic art in the United States. Aleesa cultivates relationships with community members, donors, artist estates, and living artists to help build the Cantor’s growing collection of Asian American art, which is now one of the best nationally.
“Art is a guide for every person who is looking for something.”
– Thornton Dial, 1996
Growing up between Bangkok and the Pacific Northwest, the American South was mysterious and unfamiliar territory to my younger self. My family never visited the region, and I gleaned all my knowledge of it from history textbooks and the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” When it came time to pick a dissertation topic in graduate school, while my colleagues decided to pursue projects in Italy and the Netherlands, I took a different path. I wanted to spend those crucial years in a historically significant, culturally vibrant and fascinatingly complex place that might seem unexpected to most art historians. As an outsider and transplant to this country, I was looking for some understanding of what it means to be American. There was no better – or more necessary –place to embark on this journey than through the South, and art was my guide. Through my research, I encountered so many incredible artists, collectors and community members, and these experiences have fundamentally shaped my worldview as a curator and art historian. In my mind, for reasons both challenging and energizing, you don’t really know the United States until you’ve spent time below the Mason-Dixon.
I am grateful to be this year’s juror, as it has allowed me to take another Southern journey through Louisiana. It is humbling to be in this role, as there is no way one can select a fully representative and complete grouping of works. This is a testament to the vitality of artistic production taking place here. I will always be a steadfast admirer of artists: the sheer courage it takes to make unique, soulful, singular things and share them with the world – in this case, asking to be judged—is radical. This year’s selection offers a diverse range of form, content, material and maker. Some works suggest vulnerability and intimacy, while others function as incisive critiques of the past and present. In certain cases, some pieces felt prophetic, anticipating the world to come. To those artists whose works I did not select, please know this process primarily reflects the juror, and I encourage all to continue on the creative path.
Artists are essential workers. You are consequential and necessary, and it is our responsibility as a society to find ways to support you. The Louisiana Contemporary is one such meaningful platform, and I am honored to be part of its history.
Congratulations to all involved.
Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander
Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Co-director, Asian American Art Initiative
Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University