Arts Council and The Helis Foundation celebrated the official unveiling of You Are What You Eat, a mural by New Orleans artist Jessica Strahan, on Saturday, May 1 from 3-5 p.m., at Legacy Park at 730 Baronne St. The public arts event was in partnership with Downtown Development District, International High School of New Orleans, and New Orleans Arts District.
The unveiling, which was held in conjunction with Jammin’ on Julia, the New Orleans Arts District Association’s annual celebration of music and art, featured a youth arts showcase, music by DJ Gamma Bloom and exhibits by Paradigm Gardens and Farm to Funk Ferments. This event was free and open to the public. Attendees wore masks and practiced social distancing.
“Jessica is an incredible local talent who we are proud to include in our line-up of artists featured in Unframed,” says Jessie Haynes, Managing Director of The Helis Foundation. “Our goal is to make art accessible to anyone living in or visiting New Orleans, and Jessica’s mural is part of this public art initiative that achieves this mission.”
Strahan’s mural, You Are What You Eat, is an expansion of Strahan’s latest portrait series. It celebrates the unique relationship between New Orleans’ cultures and food while touching on the importance of making healthier food choices. Strahan will be exhibiting additional works from her You Are What You Eat Series in Legacy Park as part of the mural celebration.
“Local artist Jessica Strahan was selected as part of an international call to womxn artists,” Arts Council Interim Director Joycelyn Reynolds said. “Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation showcases top-tier artists from across the world in public spaces downtown, and we are delighted to showcase Jessica as a local artist as part of the latest addition to the Unframed mural collection.”
Exhibiting youth artists include representatives from the Arts Council’s Young Artist Movement who contributed to the mural production including Victoria Phan, Elijah Turk, and Gabrielle Tolliver. Additionally, International School student Akayla Bailey and Encore Academy student Xzivion Strong who were selected to help provide inspiration for Strahan’s mural design will be exhibiting their work during the May 1 event.
“We would like to the thank The Helis Foundation, Arts Council of New Orleans and artist Jessica Strahan for including Legacy Park in the Unframed Project. With the help of the Project and the creativity by talented, local artists, the murals displayed throughout Downtown New Orleans are an asset, helping to provide an appealing and attractive Downtown,” Downtown Development District Interim President and CEO Richard McCall said. “Legacy Park was designed and created with that same goal. Through the efforts of many great partners, generous sponsors, and the valuable input from Downtown stakeholders, it now serves as a beautiful greenspace in Downtown New Orleans. Since opening, the park has been a place for outdoor classroom sessions, workout sessions, and entertainment. Jessica’s mural is a valuable complement to this growing neighborhood destination”
Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, a project of the Arts Council New Orleans launched in summer 2019 with the unveiling of five new murals throughout the Arts District New Orleans. Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation is the first multi-mural exhibition of large-scale artwork in Downtown New Orleans.
The exhibition now includes seven murals commissioned by local and international artists after open calls. A selection committee reviewed hundreds of submissions during the two open calls for artists, selecting a diverse slate of artworks to add to the exhibit. Two additional mural artists will be announced in 2021.
Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation exhibit includes:
Etam Cru (Poland) 600 O’Keefe St.
Team A/C (New Orleans) 746 Tchoupitoulas St.
MOMO (New Orleans) Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St.
Brandan “B-Mike” Odums in partnership with Young Artist Movement (New Orleans) 636 Baronne St.
Carl Joe Williams (New Orleans) 827 Tchoupitoulas St.
Danaé Brissonnet (Quebec) 315 Julia St.
Jessica Strahan (New Orleans) 730 Baronne St.
ABOUT JESSICA STRAHAN
Jessica Strahan is a native New Orleanian who is inspired by the vibrancy of the Crescent City, as well as the African diaspora. Self-taught, she creates portraits that amplify the African influence on New Orleans culture, from the city’s neighborhood cultural practices to its shot-gun architecture and culinary traditions to the facial features and hair stylings of its residents. Her paintings play in the parallels and dissonance between the past and the present to create windows into imagined futures.
Strahan’s paintings have been exhibited, collected, and published nationally and her murals color neighborhoods throughout New Orleans. From 2014 through 2017, she co-produced the annual Art Madness exhibition, as a founding member of Axiom Art Collective and Gallery. In 2016, Strahan was named Regional Winner of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series during Miami’s Art Basel. She is also the2019 winner of The Helis Foundation Art Prize for Louisiana Contemporary at Ogden Museum of Southern Art,juried by David Breslin, the DiMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Strahan’s paintings have been exhibited at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, the Joan Mitchell Center, Lemieux Gallery, the New Orleans African American Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Rush Corridor Gallery.
ABOUT ARTS COUNCIL NEW ORLEANS
The Arts Council New Orleans is a private 501(c)3 nonprofit organization designated as the official arts agency for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council’s mission isto improve the quality of life in New Orleans by supporting, activating, and investing in our city’s greatest natural resource: our artists, cultural producers, and creative community. Programs include Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, Arts Market New Orleans, Young Artist Movement (YAM), LUNA Fête, and grantmaking, as well as commission and community projects. (www.artsneworleans.org)
ABOUT THE HELIS FOUNDATION
The Helis Foundation is a Louisiana private foundation, established and funded by the William Helis Family. The Helis Foundation’s resources and objectives are divided into two areas: the general fund, and the Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin Art Funds. The general fund focuses on community needs primarily within the Metropolitan New Orleans area by granting funds to numerous local nonprofit organizations. The Art Funds were established by bequests from Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin. The Art Funds make grants to sustain operations, to provide free admission to, and to acquire significant art works on behalf of major institutions within the Metropolitan New Orleans area. Learn more at www.TheHelisFoundation.org.
ABOUT LEGACY PARK
Legacy Park is a green space in the historic Lafayette Square neighborhood in Downtown New Orleans (730 Baronne St). The Legacy Park Project, a partnership among Downtown Development District, International High School New Orleans, NOLA Public Schools, American Society of Landscape Architects, Groundwork New Orleans, generous sponsors, and Downtown businesses and residents, transformed a portion of the IHSNO parking lot into a shared green space serving both the students and the surrounding community. The beautifully designed park incorporates storm water management features, an outdoor classroom with a flexible lawn and shaded outdoor seating.