The New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), Arts New Orleans, and New Orleans East community partners recently celebrated the completion of the first phase of the New Orleans East Public Art Project with the unveiling of a series of youth-driven murals at Joe W. Brown Park.
Over one hundred community members, project partners, and special guests attended the public unveiling event on March 19, which featured a second line parade to each of the murals located at various points throughout the park led by the Zulu Tramps.
“I am so proud of these incredibly beautiful and creative murals in New Orleans East – which represent so much more than art; but the realization of a vision,” said Norman E. Barnum, IV, Interim President and CEO of NOLABA. “In perfect alignment with all that we aim to do here at NOLABA, this project documents and maintains our culture through artistic expression, supporting and building up our youth through mentorship, and listening to the needs of residents and business leaders through community collaborations. Together with our partners, we’re helping to realize a collective vision for New Orleans East, one that will help this community continue to rise and become a place that all are proud to call home.”
The new youth-led artwork, which was developed as a result of those meetings, reflects the unique culture, values, and aspirations of the New Orleans East community. The pieces are now on display for local residents and families to enjoy at various locations throughout Joe W. Brown Park, including the library, picnic shelter, pool building, and the NORDC recreation center.
Since last November, 24 talented youth artists in Arts New Orleans’ Young Artist Movement (YAM) program have worked closely with five professional mentors, including Journey Allen, Jamar Pierre, Courtney “Ceaux” Buckley, Ceci Givens, and Wendo Brunoir, on the Joe W. Brown Park mural series. The mentors are all New Orleans East residents or stakeholders.
YAM is an arts education and workforce development program for youth ages 14-24 that beautifies neighborhoods and connects youth to their communities through the research, design, and installation of public art.
The youth murals are part of a broader multi-year creative placemaking project titled, “Public Art in New Orleans East: Altering the Perception of a Vital Corridor through Art and Engagement,” which emerged as the result a $75,000 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant secured by Arts New Orleans in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy and NOLABA to support public art projects across the New Orleans East community.
Representing one of just 63 grants awarded nationwide, this funding will support a range of New Orleans-based community engagement activities and public art investments along commercial corridors in the East, ultimately laying the groundwork for sustainable systems change.
“As a former resident of New Orleans East, I know firsthand the beauty and cultural richness of the East,” said Joycelyn Reynolds, Executive Director of Arts New Orleans. “We are proud that our talented local youth and artists will be central to its beautification and revitalization, and we look forward to working collaboratively with New Orleans East residents and partners in the coming years to bring their visions to fruition.”
In addition to the new youth murals in Joe W. Brown Park, NOLABA, Arts New Orleans and partners are working toward several other exciting art interventions in New Orleans East, including sculptures at the Crowder, Read and Bullard exits along I-10 and a sculpture projects along Lake Forest Boulevard.