The Joe W. Brown Park youth mural series is part of a multi-year creative placemaking project that will expand public art in New Orleans East, called “Public Art in New Orleans East: Altering the Perception of a Vital Corridor through Art and Engagement.” The project coincides with broader revitalization efforts in the East. Our goal is to celebrate the diverse cultures of the East, shift its perception by beautifying community assets and create a sense of place along once-thriving commercial corridors.
The four murals, which were unveiled on March 19, can be found throughout Joe W. Brown Park. This past November, NOLABA selected 24 talented youth artists from New Orleans East to help make the project’s vision a reality alongside five professional artist mentors (all New Orleans East residents/stakeholders), including Journey Allen, Jamar Pierre, Courtney "Ceaux" Buckley, Ceci Givens, and Wendo Brunoir. Community members were invited to a Design Workshop on December 4 to share their input on what makes the East so special to help guide the artistic direction of each mural piece.
Young Artist Movement (YAM) is Arts New Orleans’s arts education and workforce development program. YAM was founded in 2016 by a team of experienced artists, educators, and advocates dedicated to engaging young people through profound experiences that result in inspiring public art projects. YAM serves predominantly youth of color, ages 14-24.
YAM delivers a community-engaged, high-quality public art research, design, and installation service. In all of our YAM projects, talented youth learn transferable entrepreneurial skills through a paid job in collaboration with professional artists, community groups, and clients.
Location: East New Orleans Regional Library on the wall facing Read Blvd Professional
Artist Mentor: Journey Allen
Youth Leader: Elijah
Youth Artists: Derek, Aliyah
Description of Mural Design: This vibrant mural features two inviting towers of books in the middle ground with the foreground highlighting three young readers. Entitled “Colors of Our Culture,” this piece shows three children reading books where various aspects of New Orleans culture appear to leap from the pages and enter into real life. This mural speaks not only to the importance of reading but the way that reading also preserves culture as the writings of our history can be passed down for many generations to come. Furthermore, this piece is valuable to the New Orleans East project because it ties the area to the historical and cultural landscape of New Orleans by way of the items that emerge from the books while also referencing the important role that the East plays in New Orleans’ preservation of wildlife and natural landscapes. The background is painted in Journey Allen’s signature abstract design.
For more examples of Journey Allen’s work, please visit www.artistjourneyallen.com and follow @artistjourneyallen on Instagram.
Location: Pool building entrance
Artist Mentor: Ceci Givens
Youth Leader: Aaran, Miya M., Nia J.
Description of Mural Design: The continual flow of inspiration, like water, comes from every place in the East. These are a few inspirational New Orleans East community members who fight for the quality of life of East residents of all ages.
For more examples of Ceci Givens’s work, please visit www.ccgivensart.com and follow @_artattack on Instagram.
Location: Tennis Center
Professional Artist Mentor: Jamar Pierre
Youth Artists: Gabriella, Oliver M., Andria
Description of Mural Design: This mural represents nature and our cultural connection to our landscape and food. The mural depicts a serene natural setting, inspired by the artists’ tour of the Audubon Nature Institute. Culture is represented through the musical notes and the food we eat that comes from the waterways in the East and the lakes, rivers, and marsh. The theme of community is represented by the family in the boat that is anchored to the land.
For more examples of Jamar Pierre’s work, please visit artbyjpierre.com and follow @artbyjpierre on Instagram.
Location: NORDC Recreation Center
Artist Mentor: Wendo Brunoir
Youth Leader: Victoria
Youth Artists: Tyrenn, Twitchy
Description of Mural Design: This mural represents resilience and the capacity of New Orleans East to recover from the many difficulties it has faced. This design was inspired by an interview with Dr. Stella Jones, a long-time New Orleans East community leader and arts advocate, who shared her memories of the East when she was younger and her vision about what the future holds for the East. The abstract design is based on sedimentary rock formations, which represent layers of history and change. Each color represents different memories and experiences that collectively contribute to the ever-changing landscape and transformation of the area. The visual analogy of sedimentary rocks conveys a sense of history and importance for residents. We hope that this mural will be a symbol of the strength of New Orleans East and its ability to withstand adversity and the capability to build upon itself rather than deteriorate.
For more examples of Wendo Brunoir’s work, follow @wendostudio on Instagram.
In addition to the new youth murals in Joe W. Brown Park, NOLABA, Arts New Orleans and their partners are working toward several other exciting art interventions in New Orleans East, including:
As part of NOLABA’s ongoing efforts to focus more resources and economic development activities in the East, it is also in the process of engaging with community stakeholders to certify and install the New Orleans East community as one of those under the Louisiana Economic Development’s (LED) Louisiana Development Ready Communities (LDRC) Program. The LDRC program, which was officially launched in 2011, encourages and supports selected Louisiana communities to become development-ready, competitive, and “open for business” by creating and implementing a strategic community and economic development plan.
The New Orleans East Public Art Project will reinforce a sense of pride within this once-thriving commercial corridor, spur economic development activities throughout the area, and address long-standing community concerns through site-specific public art installations. NOLABA thanks all the partners who helped make the project a reality, including Arts New Orleans, Jones Family, Mayor's Office of Cultural Economy, Councilmember Oliver Thomas, Eastern New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Council, New Orleans East Matters Coalition, Friends of Joe Brown Park, New Orleans Recreation Department Commission (NORDC), Algiers Economic Development Foundation, New Orleans East Hospital, Audubon Nature Institute, East New Orleans Business Development District, and New Orleans Public Library. These organizations will continue to work together to engage local residents and artists in an effort to expand public art in New Orleans East.