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 its launch, Louisiana Contemporary has presented 780 works by 489 artists.
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, Hallie Ringle, Hugh Kaul Curator of Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, has selected 51 works by 39 artists.
Roger H. Ogden & Ken Barnes
Martin J. Drell M.D.
Peter Politzer & Jane S. Murray
Luke Alex Atkinson
Luis Cruz Azaceta
Andrew Buckner Lyman
Kenneth Scott, Jr.
Kelsey Scult, Music by Sava Wolf
John and Erin Wales
Hallie Ringle is the Hugh Kaul Curator of Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, where she curated Celestia Morgan: REDLINE, Wall to Wall: Merritt Johnson (co-curated) and Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future. She was formerly Assistant Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she curated Maren Hassinger: Monuments, Firelei Baez: Joy Out of Fire, Fictions (co-curated), Rico Gatson: Icons 2007–2017, Video Studio: Meeting Points, Palatable: Food and Contemporary Art, and Salon Style. She was a fall 2018 Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellow. She has a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.
I was raised in Davidson, North Carolina by two ardent fans of New Orleans and, by extension, Louisiana. It may sound odd to say that one can love a state with as much passion as a sports team but my parents, Bill and Georgia Ringle, managed it. After moving from New Orleans to Davidson in 1986, they instilled in us a belief that New Orleans was the center of culture. If Davidson did anything right, New Orleans did it better. In our household, if a friend mentioned New Orleans it implied a kind of worldliness that won them instant acceptance into the Ringle family.
I can safely admit that my parents were right about New Orleans. Judging from the strength of the applications, it’s clear that there are vibrant, resilient communities of artists in Louisiana. For me, the health of an arts community is evident through the zeal with which artists are experimenting and I was so impressed to see artists in this application trying out new modes of working. Given everything these artists have had to contend with, not the least of which was a global pandemic, I’m deeply moved that these artists continued to consider the implications of artistic expression. Shifts over the past year and a half have been in thought and action, that is, largely invisible. For me, this past year and my new stationary, solitary existence provoked a lot of self reflection and it’s clear from the applications that many of the artists shared this sense of interiority. From representing the deep impact of the pandemic to national reckonings with systemic racism, these artists are giving us a glimpse of their experiences. They’re revisiting familiar places that have been closed off and become new again, closely examining the world around them and asking us to see it with them.
I was all too happy to view those worlds, to travel through the work of these artists, to experience another section of the South. I’m writing this from Birmingham, Alabama, where I’ve lived for the past three years. Since then I’ve learned that, in order for art and artists to thrive in a region, there must be grants, awards and adequate opportunities for exhibiting work in institutions. These opportunities are abundant in places like New York and Los Angeles, but aren’t as prevalent in the South, making exhibitions like Louisiana Contemporary all the more important. Ogden Museum of Southern Art has certainly contributed heavily to the viability of arts in Louisiana through their commitment to artists working locally and it’s been an honor to see the fruits of that support in this exhibition.