The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp evokes New Orleans’s natural environment—surrounded by bayous, lakes and wetlands near the mouth of the Mississippi River. It also alludes to the city’s unique cultural landscape as a creative force; the politically engaged jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp described jazz itself as a triumph of the human spirit, a lily that grows “in spite of the swamp.” New Orleans of course gave birth to jazz, arguably the preeminent art form of the twentieth century, pioneered under adverse circumstances. That music germinated within of the darkness of slavery; grew through the African drumming of Congo Square; absorbed European classical and brass band music; was nourished in the sultry brothels and saloons of Storyville where Buddy Bolden played his cornet; and mixed with the syncopated Cuban rhythms that Jelly Roll Morton called the “Spanish tinge.”
Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, will open to the public on Saturday, November 18, 2017 and run through February 25, 2018 aligning with the City of New Orleans’s Tricentennial celebration. Prospect.4 will host Preview Days of the city-wide triennial beginning Thursday, November 16 and running through Sunday, November 19, with the Swamp Galaxy Gala scheduled for Friday evening, November 17th.. .
This year’s Swamp Galaxy Gala will honor native Louisiana artist Lynda Benglis, Bronx Museum executive director Holly Block, Prospect New Orleans founding board member and noted Africanist William Fagaly, and director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Golden. Additionally, a posthumous award will be presented to artist Barkley L. Hendricks, whose work is featured in Prospect.4. The gala will take place on Friday, November 17 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Sugar Mill and feature dinner, dancing, and a New Orleans-style celebration. Individual tickets start at $500 and include VIP access to P.4 Preview Days. Tickets are currently available at www.prospectneworleans.org.
“Our Contemporary art world would not be nearly as powerful or exciting without the visionary leadership of this year’s honorees,” said Ylva Rouse, Interim Director of Prospect New Orleans. “These luminaries have each in their own way created a better and more diverse world for us to experience, as reflected in Prospect.4.”
Barkley L. Hendricks, 2017 Artistic Director’s Award
Barkley L. Hendricks was a painter and photographer best known for his realist and post-modern portraits of people of color living in urban areas beginning in the 1960s and 70s and continuing to the present. Trevor Schoonmaker, the organizing curator for Hendricks’ traveling exhibition Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool said, “His bold portrayal of his subject’s attitude and style elevates the common person to celebrity status. Cool, empowering, and sometimes confrontational, Hendricks’ artistic privileging of a culturally complex black body has paved the way for today’s younger generation of artists.” Hendricks was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and lived and worked in New London, Connecticut until his passing in April of 2017. He earned both his BFA and MFA from Yale University.