In New Orleans in 1857 a newly formed secret society, the Mistick Krewe of Comus, began the tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras with a torch-lit procession of extravagant floats. My series, Mistick Krewes, is an homage to the rich jumble of that city’s overlapping heritages and the still perceptible aura of its tempestuous history. Since its founding in 1718, New Orleans’ cultural, political and natural landscapes have been continually invaded and eroded, bought and sold, enriched and transformed.
A visitor to New Orleans might pass through districts, buildings and gardens that exhibit the intertwining of centuries of Native American, Spanish, French, African and American influences. City streets are named for Greek muses, native tribes and 18th-century French nobility. Surrounding swamplands are swallowed by encroaching gulf waters. The atmosphere is charged with an air of mystery, a strange sense of desire, and a whiff of something hazily remembered, beckoning from just around the next corner. It is a place where history is revered, and where it can sometimes be ‘mistickally’ re-experienced.
In these works I am combining my photographs with imagery from popular as well as archival sources. Adding layer upon layer, revisiting each composition again and again, I am working toward scenarios that compel even as they may mislead. Interweaving elements from nature, history and contemporary life conjures up landscapes populated with plants, wildlife, and otherworldly beings, evoking lost times and the Mardi Gras traditions that celebrate them.