Our team, a collective of designers, artists, urbanists, and educators, has been working since July 2017 to pair scholarly narratives and locally commissioned artwork in telling the stories that are too often lost or obscured when New Orleans history is recounted.
These are the stories of New Orleanians who were poor and working-class. Black and brown. Women and children. Lesbian, gay, trans, and queer. Immigrants and refugees. Those who fought battles for inclusion and justice; those who worked to improve lives and bring hope, but who were and are unlikely to be elevated on any pedestal. At the same time, our team has been creating events and engagement opportunities across the city; reaching a broad cross-section of New Orleans residents to listen to your answers to the question: What is an appropriate monument for New Orleans today?
Our goal is a radically democratic one. We want every resident of New Orleans to have an opportunity to find voice in this process. Public proposals are the core of Paper Monuments’ process, a continually expanding pool of prospective monuments, memorials and public art that range from the intimate to the epic and tell the stories that are important to New Orleans’ residents.
Phase Two of the Paper Monuments project expands the focus on public space and public art through a call for local and regional artists to draw upon both the poster series and the catalogue of public proposals to create twenty temporary public art installations distributed throughout the city of New Orleans. This city-wide exhibition will be paired with a centralized public display of all of the Paper Monuments posters created in Phase One.
Based on the experiences of Philadelphia's Monument Lab, we also anticipate that Phase Two will generate a significant increase in public proposals as it works to generate a broader discussion about monuments, art, and representation that is more accessible than theoretical. We hope, given the tremendous creativity of New Orleans residents, that it also works to generate new DIY approaches, parallel projects, and great collaborations!
In keeping with the Monument Lab model and drawing from the Map Room project in St. Louis, we are partnering with the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies through New Orleans Historical to create a map of New Orleans to represent the locations of the people, places, events, and movements referenced in Phase One of the Paper Monuments process. As we move through the process, we will partner to create an additional layer of mapping, representing residents' proposed monuments in place throughout the city. We will also be partnering with the Midlo Center to collect the stories and artwork produced by our citizens as part of their collection.
The collection of New Orleans histories made visible through this process will be a tremendous asset to the city and provide an opportunity to establish a multi-site strategy for investment in public spaces, public art and memorials throughout New Orleans (see Cite Memorie)