Academic journal article The Southern Review

Artist's Statement: Parts Not Uptown

Academic journal article The Southern Review

Artist's Statement: Parts Not Uptown

Article excerpt

GROWING UP IN Uptown New Orleans, I experienced what could have been a lifetime's worth of Mardi Gras parades each year. From King's Day (January 6) to Ash Wednesday, it seemed there was always a group parading down Saint Charles Avenue. To me, as a kid, Mardi Gras was about beads, floats, marching bands, kings, queens, flambeaux carriers, and running through crowded streets with friends, old and new ... happiness, really. Mardi Gras was about happiness. That was Uptown, "on the parade route." As I grew older, I wanted to venture out beyond the boundaries of what I had always known, to explore the way others experienced their own carnival happiness. I started by joining hundreds of other revelers who met under the Claiborne Avenue overpass on a Mardi Gras Day to witness the in-your-face majesty of the Mardi Gras Indians. The proud aggressiveness along with the sincerity and beauty of those men, women, and children spoke to me. I needed to explore more of New Orleans, particularly the parts not Uptown.

Before long, I became fascinated with second lines--parades that often are associated with men's and women's social clubs, and that always include brass bands, hand-decorated suits, and many people strutting down the city streets. …

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