Claiming Space, Giving Thanks

Paper Monuments is deeply grateful to the many, many people whose labor, advocacy, and knowledge have helped to make this project possible! As we celebrate the final exhibit of two years of this public art and public history project, we reflect on the indebtedness of our collective to everyone who has been involved in shaping the content and context of this work.

First, thank you to Gia Hamilton and the New Orleans African-American Museum for hosting the Claiming Space exhibit and moderating the opening event. Thank you to Sunni Patterson for grounding and closing us out with her words and spirit. Thank you to Cody Ainey for asking the questions that matter, even when they have no answers. Thank you to Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes for being your inimitable self. We are blessed to have you in our lives and our community.


We would like to thank all of the writers who contributed: Larry Powell, Malik Rahim, Bryan Wagner, Leon Waters, Elizabeth Steeby, Malik Bartholomew, Emily Clark, Shannon Lee Dawdy, Virginia Gould, Sylvia Frey, Lauren Lastrapes, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Al Jackson, Frank Perez, Laura Kelley, Roberta Brandes Gratz, Lydia Nichols, Amber Wiley, Pepper Bowen, Michael A, Radcliff, James B. Borders IV, Rien Fertel, Richard Campanella, Wendi Moore-O'Neal, John O'Neal, Bertha O'Neal, Emily Maw, Nick Weldon, Thomas Adams, Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, Mary Mitchell, Trent Smith, Kiki Reinecke, Lynnell Thomas, Katy Reckdahl, Adrienne Dixson, Anna Livia Brand, Marguerite Nguyen, Shana Griffin, Denise Frasier, Laine Kaplan-Levenson, Keith Dunn, Timothy David Ray, and Danielle Abrams.

We would like to thank all of the artists who contributed: Langston Allston, Brendon Palmer-Angell, Jeffrey Arlyn, Nik Richard, Lydia Stein, Kaizer Sylve, Sean Clark, Kyle Blake Tveten, Kate Lacour, Eliza Carey, Monica Kelly, D. Lammie Hanson, Henry Lipkis, Alberta Wright and YEP Design Works, Daniela Marx, Jeff Goodman, Rachel Cockrill, Pippin Frisbie-Calder, Hannah Chalew, Matt Phelan, Liz Lerman, Tiffany Lin, Bryan Brown, Rebecca O'Mallet Gipson, Jeremy Paten, Hugo Martinez, CeCe Givens, Sly Watts, Carl Joe Williams, Jane Tardo, Jose Cotto, Cubs the Poet, Carla Williams, Lee Laa, Renee Royale, and Kimberly Coleman.

We are grateful to our Re:Present jury, many of whom also served as ongoing advisors and supporters throughout the project. Thank you to Willie Birch, Ron Bechet, Erin Greenwald, Greg Lambousey, Marcela Correa, and again Gia Hamilton!

We are grateful to our Crossroads storytellers, John Hankins, Rebecca Snedeker, Mama Jennifer Turner, Jackie Summell, Phoebe Ferguson, Tilman Hardy, Nic Brierre Aziz, Chris Lane, and again Sunni Patterson!

We would like to thank all of the collaborators, co-conspirators, and colleagues who lent their expertise and vision to shaping the Paper Monuments project. Thank you, always, to Mama Jennifer Turner, Mama Vera Warren-Williams, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Larry Powell, Sylvia Frey, Amber Wiley, Dasjon Jordan, Ethan Ellestad, Bryan Wagner, Gilad Meron, Barbara Brown-Wilson, Elgin Cleckley, Maggie Hansen, Melissa Lee, Candice Huber, Bob Snead, Ameca Reali, Flozell Daniels, Alfredo Cruz, April Martin, Molly Mitchell, Connie Atkinson, Abram Himelstein, Jerry Maldonado, Jackie Curtis, Jennifer Kretschmann, Danny McElmurray, Kevin Gray, and Marla Nelson.

Deepest gratitude to Jess Garz, Paul Farber, and Laurie Allen for the hours that became weeks and then months of shaping this work into something richer and more meaningful than we could have initially envisioned. We have been and remain in awe of the tremendous work that you all have done through Monument Lab and are excited to see what comes next!


Our collective began with the question, “What’s next?” which grew into an exploration of what had been, what was, and what mattered to New Orleans; an exploration that would unfold throughout the celebration of our city’s tricentennial year, over the arc of a historic municipal election, and within an expanding network of projects and cities asking the same questions. It has been inspiring to collaborate with many of these efforts, to challenge ourselves to do better based on the examples set, and to simply witness the abundant commitment and creativity of these diverse approaches.

We sit in deep gratitude that our work has been part of the many brilliant recent and ongoing conversations around complicating New Orleans' histories. These include the incredible projects and programs of the Neighborhood Story Project, including Queer Cartography; Last Call: The New Orleans Dyke Bar History Project; WWNO’s TriPod: New Orleans at 300, New Orleans Historical, | The Times-Picayune’s 300 for 300, A People’s Guide to New Orleans, the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Changing Course: Reflections on New Orleans Histories, Take ‘Em Down NOLA; The Data Center’s New Orleans Prosperity Index: TriCentennial Edition, the New Orleans Committee to Erect Historic Markers on the Slave Trade, the New Orleans Slave Trade Marker and App Project, Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity and many, many others.

We are grateful to our partner organizations: the American Library Association, the Amistad Research Center on the campus of Tulane University, Studio Be, Antenna Gallery and Paper Machine, the Arts Council of New Orleans, the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, Tulane University’s A Studio in the Woods, Backatown Coffee Parlour, Crescent City Books, Community Book Center, the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, Habana Works, Historypin, Know NOLA Tours, the Loyola University New Orleans Department of Design, Material Life, the Ethel and Herman L. Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans, Monument Lab, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the National Organization of Minority Architects-Louisiana, the Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane University, the New Orleans Public Libraries, the New Orleans Recreation Department, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, Octavia Books, Pagoda Cafe, Bike Easy, RIDE New Orleans, Tubby and Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop, Water Block, the Dryades YMCA, and the Youth Empowerment Project’s Design Works.

Paper Monuments’ team has been inspired by a constellation of projects across the United States and the world which are amplifying stories of places, movements, events and people long erased and obscured. These include, but are not limited to, the aforementioned Monument Lab in Philadelphia, Untold RVA in Richmond, Virginia; Black Gotham Experience in New York City; the Fourth Plinth in London; A Paper Monument for the Paperless in Amsterdam and many more.

We do not claim to be ‘the way’ to represent these histories; rather, we are humbled by the opportunity to exist as one of many groups doing this work.


The Paper Monuments team is: Bryan C Lee Jr., Sue Mobley (Co-Directors), Nic Brierre Aziz, Chris Daemmrich, Colin Fredrickson, Shoshana Gordon, Brit Lindsey, John Ludlam, Suzanne Raether, Isa Siegel, Morgan Augillard, and Katie Wills.

We give many, many thanks to our core volunteers: Jebney Lewis, Nick Jenisch, Erica Rawles, Joanna Farley, Dana Elliot, Michelle Barrett, Maddi Wells, Lyneisha Jackson, and Dez McWilliams. We have also been ably assisted by dozens of volunteers over the course of the Paper Monuments project, and our gratitude to each and every one of them, for their labor, patience, and humor knows no bounds!

Paper Monuments is a project of Colloqate Design, a multidisciplinary non-profit design justice practice focused on expanding community access to, and building power through, the design of communal, civic, and cultural spaces. Our incredible Board of Directors is Jess Zimbabwe, Paul Harang, Casius Pealer, Rosa Shang, Jose Alvarez, and Steve Lewis.

Paper Monuments is supported by the Foundation for Louisiana, and the Surdna Foundation. Documentation of the project process is provided by Luisa Dantas and Michael Boedigheimer of JoLu Productions, through a separate project of the Surdna Foundation.

People's Histories from Lake to River

People's Histories from Lake to River