Soirée D’Evolution Tableaux Vivants et Nature Mortes
I was inspired by the Dutch Masters for this show, especially the grisly Nature Mortes, in whose titles I found a double entendre with some of the grisly imagery. I began with still lifes from my own collection of oddities, but then fell down a rabbit hole of research to tell the story of a secret society party in 1873 New Orleans that turns decadent and deadly. I then delved into the world of Tableaux Vivants and their place in New Orleans secret krewes and societies of the past. Each print is four feet by six feet and tells it’s own story, which links to the next. There are handmade books that include all of the imagery and stories to accompany the show. This has been my greatest adventure in photography and although each tableaux is fictitious, they are all based on historical truths. As they say, the devil is in the details.
My first solo show featured loose women, unkempt graveyards, and musicians in various states of cognizance. I can only say I am drawn to, and find beauty in these people and places. I shot in black and white because I love the ambiguity of time encapsulated. Once a friend overheard an octogenarian claim one of my portraits was of her in the St. Louis Cemetery, as a young girl. These are the things that inspire me. I often rely on the kindness of friends (and sometimes strangers) to pose for my photos; their beauty and character is what also inspires me.
These works comprised my first gallery showing. I created lightboxes with black and white ethereal polaroids of women from an era past, complete with tasseled pull switches and some with velvet curtains. I have no idea what inspired me to do these: sometimes a vision appears in my head and I have to execute it. I do know the city of New Orleans was at the heart of it.
When I was very little, my father used to sail us out to remote islands off of North Carolina to picnic and collect treasures. These treasures would range from fresh scallops and beautiful shells to entire rabbit skeletons, sitting undisturbed as though ready to hop away. But my favorite treasures to find washed ashore were the old bottles. Often blue glass, and usually covered in barnacles, they spoke of exotic adventures out of the past, someone trapped somewhere; a message in a bottle. For some reason the vision of girls in bottles, adrift at sea in bottles has been stuck in my head for the past two years. I finally decided I had to let them out of my head and onto paper. They are the message in the bottle, the treasure, and the trapped mystery all in one. I have always loved the play of water, sometimes turbulent, sometimes looking like beautiful waves washing in from the Caribbean, and have incorporated that in my photos, letting the luminous mystery of the deep blue seas star equally. Although the photos seem to be from oceans worldwide, I call them my Mississippi Mermaids. Besides loving the movie, they were all photographed here in New Orleans: what other mermaid would travel in a bottle?
These photographs are from my wanderings in New Orleans and France. From follies to fountains, misty castle grounds in the Loire Valley to the birds of Audubon, they are all visions that catch my eye. The one thing that ties our lands together is our French history, which always lends an eye towards beauty.
I am obsessed with anything that glows. Neon beer signs, the moon and stars, and most impossible to me, sea life. I can only say I was thrilled when I found that I had captured these sea creatures in all of their glorious luminosity.
Six Sides of A Die
When you own a bevy of human skulls, it’s only natural to play with them occasionally.
On editing the shots, I somehow ended up with one great shot each of many combinations, happening to be one through six skulls. My song-writing partner Dava Nasr came up with amazing music and lyrics for a song she titled Six Sides of a Die, but will not let us record it, much to my dismay. I’m stealing the title for now, giving it new life in death, and credit, of course.
Living in New Orleans, I have fallen in love with the enormous and ancient Live Oaks. I photograph them continuously, amazed at their branches reaching across boulevards and sometimes dipping down to make benches. On special occasions those lucky enough to have a yard full of them dress them up with lights to everyone’s delight. I love the abstract patterns they make and the reinforced magical transition that occurs from day to night.