For the past 10 years, through the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, I have been creating murals and other art with C.F. Rowley Alternative School in St. Bernard Parish. Much of the art we created explored our interconnection to our environment (earth, water and sky.) This school was decimated by Hurricane Katrina. It was rebuilt at a new location, next to a chemical plant. It was again greatly impacted in 2010 by the explosion on Deep Water Horizon and the BP disaster. At the time, the majority of students' families worked either in the fishing industry or the petroleum industry; additionally, several of the school’s staff and students had oil from the disaster regularly washing up on their front lawns. This school serves students in difficult life circumstances; all of the students have been expelled from their school of origin. IMPRESSIONS: THE NATURE OF LANDSCAPE is a continuation and expansion of the work I have been doing in St. Bernard Parish, offering opportunities to share the stories of those I have been working with and providing the larger community with opportunities to reflect on our culture and on the present day environmental conditions affecting our region. Beignet. Beaucoup. Faubourg. Lagniappe. Make groceries. Vieux Carre. As New Orleans approaches its tricentennial in 2018, French culture and heritage remain a vibrant part of the culture, language, architecture, and life of New Orleanians new and old. IMPRESSIONS: THE NATURE OF LANDSCAPE is a bilingual (English/French) original multi-media theatrical work that uses Impressionism (the desire create art from life experience) to reflects on culture and heritage of communities in Louisiana by encouraging dialogues and advocacy around environmental preservation and conservation.
Impressionism is a term that came to designate the work of a diverse circle of artists who shared a desire for artistic independence and an allegiance to modern expression. The Impressionists attempted to draw directly from nature, to capture an immediate impression of what the eye sees. If we take the time to look, some of the things we can see in out region include ongoing costal erosion, lasting affects of the BP disaster, poor air quality and contaminated soil. Impressionism also included the desire to paint the day to day existence and experiences of common folk, a shift in focus and subject matter from the rich and prominent to those at the bottom of the social ladders, often emphasizing the subject’s anonymity and marginalized position. In Louisiana, many of the “common folk” and the marginalized include those employed in the petroleum and fishing industries and those that live, work and go to school near chemical plants. Prior to the Impressionists, portraits and landscapes were usually painted in a studio. Impressionists painted realistic scenes of modern life, and often painted outdoors, en plein air, a French expression which means "in the open air." The Impressionists found that they could only capture the momentary and transient effects of nature and every day life experiences if they left the studio and went out into the open air. The Impressionist Edgar Degas spent time in New Orleans; his mother’s family was from here and he came to visit relatives, painting scenes of life during his stay. Edgar Degas arrived in New Orleans in a time of change, coinciding with, some argue, the decisive moment in Reconstruction New Orleans, as the city, under Federal control and under the constant threat of military occupation, tried to recover from the ravages of the Civil War. IMMPRESSIONS is arriving at a pivotal time of change, coinciding with, some argue, the decisive moment for the cultural preservation and environmental conservation of our region.
IMPRESSIONS is being developed from RESEARCH (artistic and environmental,) PERSONAL ACCOUNTS (personal narratives from the lives of the impressionists and stories from St. Bernard coastal residents) and THEATRICAL TECHNIQUES. The TULANE CENTER FOR PUBLIC SERVICE is partnering by providing an intern to assist with research (artistic and environmental) and documentation of oral histories and personal narratives shared during story circle rehearsals. The GULF RESTORATION NETWORK (GRN) and THE LOUISIANA BUCKET BRIGADE are partnering by particpating in the rehearsal process, sharing stories about their experiences. GRN stories recount ongoing recovery from the BP disaster (wildlife and beach cleanup) and coastal restoration efforts. THE BUCKET BRIGADE stories recount life and work related to air quality (because of their proximity to chemical plants, their experience of air quality and the effects of chemicals is much different than those of us that don’t live and work near the plants.) Performances of the original multi-media theatrical work will be March 28, 29, 30, April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, and 13, 2014; Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8PM; Sunday performances begin at 3PM. Performances will be held at The Dodwell House,1519 Esplanade, New Orleans, LA 70116, ideally outside en plein air. The interior of the building has also been reserved in the case of inclement weather. Performances will be followed by talk backs. In addition to participating in the rehearsal process, GRN and the BUCKET BRIGADE will facilitate talk backs detailing their conservation and preservation efforts and how audiences can get involved. The hope is to directly connect IMPRESSIONS audiences with ongoing environmental advocacy efforts being lead by these two organizations. IMPRESSIONS will use ART and CULTURE as vehicles to communicate points of connection between people, between neighborhoods and between communities in our region. Collaborating with individuals and local and regional groups to understand and protect our landscape and heritage, IMPRESSIONS will draw immediate and lasting attention to threatened physical and cultural landscapes, sparking debate and encouraging informed, community-based stewardship of the rich heritage and interconnectedness of our shared landscape in the hopes of saving this diverse and priceless heritage for future generations.
Currently, we have raised $3,050. Additionally, St. Anna’s Episcopal Church New Orleans is providing the performance venue, seating, a sound system and two projectors in-kind. We are seeking a cash match to ensure we can cover bare minimum overhead costs of staging our production (costumes, set design, lighting) prior to the opening of the show. This will give us the opportunity to create a more sophisticated product. We anticipate we will earn revenue through ticket sales. If we exceed our fund raising goal it will ensure we can develop and produce a presentation that fully realizes our artistic vision, a theatrical work that sparks the imagination and engages and enriches our community. We are grateful to all of our supporters—community support is vital to the development and presentation of this work. You are our production partners; your investment helps us shine.