Ogden Museum of Southern Art to host Curated Conversation with artist Dawn DeDeaux Exploring DeDeaux's FREE FALL: Milton's Paradise Lost and Found on Poydras, a newly installed work in the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition, presented by The Helis Foundation

New Orleans, LA — Presented by The Helis Foundation, Ogden Museum of Southern Art is pleased to share a Curated Conversation with multimedia artist Dawn DeDeaux and Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection at Ogden Museum will take place on Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m. Moderated by Wiilliam Andrews, Ogden Museum’s Executive Director, the conversation will explore DeDeaux’s installation found in the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition presented by The Helis Foundation, FREE FALL: Prophecy & Free Will in Milton’s Paradise Lost on Poydras

“Using compositions of light and literature, this powerful sculptural installation engages the viewer to acknowledge their own agency and complicity in an impending loss of our Earthly Paradise,” explains Sumrall. “With this work (much like her entire body of work) DeDeaux characteristically looks to the past to inform the future with her singular voice. It is a poetic alarm, an epic visual warning.” 

DeDeaux’s FREE FALL: Prophecy & Free Will in Milton’s Paradise Lost on Poydras is a large-scale sculpture installation that pays tribute to John Milton’s 1667 ‘Paradise Lost.’ Selections from the epic poem appear on 64 concrete columns, installed at angles as though in a state of fall over several city blocks in front of the Caesar’s Superdome. The text is generated in highway reflective vinyl to offer distinctive appearances that vary from day to night: by day, the text reads in subtle pearlescence typography; and by night the verse transforms into a glowing vibrancy before the light of cellphones and headlights of passing cars – creating a moving, ever-changing choreography of light and language.

DeDeaux shares, “I am so pleased to illuminate Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ in highway reflective vinyl on columns that glows in the dark on Poydras Street before the Caesar’s Superdome.  Milton was blind when he wrote the poem, dictating the verses to his two suffering daughters! I was also influenced by Milton’s greatest aspiration to make our DARKNESS VISIBLE – which is the poem’s most famous word couplings. I wanted to give back to the blind poet and let him see his words in the darkness of night, and to share his poem’s sage relevance today, as we consider our own potential expulsion from Paradise. I personally now read the poem differently, and more a foreboding tale of our future rather than a myth of our past. This beautiful spinning Earth is our paradise and it needs our protection and respect.”

The event will take place at 2 p.m. on April 10 and is free and open to the public, but advanced registration and masks are required. Attendees can register and to learn more by visiting www.ogdenmuseum.org.

This event was originally scheduled to take place in January 2022, but was postponed due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. The program was originally set as a Panel Discussion, but now consists of a Curated Conversation.

About Dawn Dedeaux

New Orleans–based multimedia artist Dawn DeDeaux (American, b. 1952) has long worked between worlds. Since the 1970s, her art has addressed an ever-widening series of gulfs: between people, between cultures and communities, and ultimately between humans and the Earth itself. Living and working in Louisiana—one of the fastest disappearing landmasses in the world—DeDeaux has been grappling with urgent questions about Earth and humanity’s survival for the last fifty years. As we face a world increasingly imperiled by rising waters, roiling temperatures, unchecked pandemics, and escalating social strife, the future DeDeaux’s work has long foreseen is now.

For DeDeaux, physicist Stephen Hawking’s prediction in the early 2000s that humans have 100 years left—not to save the planet, but to figure out how to flee—sounded an alarm bell that humanity has a limited-time-only opportunity to come together and co-exist. Her art implores us to seize our last opportunity to heal past divisions, counter present inequality, and forestall future strife.

Looking back on five decades of work, Dawn DeDeaux: The Space Between Worlds resounds with a question that has animated DeDeaux’s entire career: If we are forced to escape—from flood, from fire, even from the Earth itself—who gets a seat on the bus? Who gets left behind?

About The Helis Foundation

The Helis Foundation, a Louisiana private foundation established and funded by the William Helis Family, advances access to the arts and focuses on community needs primarily within the Metropolitan New Orleans area. The Helis Foundation’s Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin Art Funds make grants to sustain operations, to provide free admission to, to acquire significant art works on behalf of major institutions, and site artwork in public spaces within the Metropolitan New Orleans area. The Art Funds underwrite major initiatives and special projects such as Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition presented by The Helis Foundation, Louisiana Contemporary at Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden. The Foundation also launched the first large-scale mural exhibit: Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, a project of Arts New Orleans, which features a collection of nine murals in Downtown New Orleans.

About Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition

Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition presented by The Helis Foundation is the South’s leading rotating public sculpture exhibition. The Helis Foundation, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and The City of New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways work together to bring interesting and inspiring sculptures to the residents and visitors of New Orleans. Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition has installed over 40 sculptures by artists of local and international acclaim on Poydras Street between Convention Center Boulevard and South Galvez. The Helis Foundation funds every aspect of the exhibition.

About Bradley Sumrall

Bradley Sumrall is Curator of the Collection for Ogden Museum of Southern Art, where he is involved in building, researching and interpreting the nation’s most comprehensive collection of Art of the American South. A native of Mississippi, he currently lives in the Historic Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. He has written extensively on the art and culture of the American South, and has served as curator for over seventy museum exhibitions. His shows have been reviewed in Art in America, Art Forum, Hyperallergic, Terremoto Magazine and Art & Antiques among other online and print publications.

About Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana since 1999 and open to the public since 2003, Ogden Museum of Southern Art invites visitors to experience and learn about the artists and culture of the American South. Ogden Museum is home to a collection of more than four thousand works, making it the largest and most comprehensive repository dedicated to Southern art in the nation, with particular strength in the genres of Self-Taught art, Regionalism, photography, and contemporary art. The Museum is further recognized for its original exhibitions, public events and educational programs, which examine the development of visual art alongside Southern traditions of music, literature and local craft.

Ogden Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free to Museum Members and $13.50 for adults, $11 for seniors 65 and older, $6.75 for children ages 5-17 and free for children under 5. The Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information visit ogdenmuseum.org or call 504.539.9650.