The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) New Orleans announced its 2020-2021 Fall season and the reopening of its galleries with the landmark exhibition, Make America What America Must Become, featuring the work of 35 regional artists and their collaborators from the Gulf South states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, the Indigenous area known as Bulbancha, Mississippi, and Texas. 

In the context of the shifting landscape for artists in the South, the CAC has geographically expanded its annual open call and invited all Gulf South artists working across media to submit work that examined how power in America is manifested in culture, politics, economics, and ecology. A new work by Brandan "BMike" Odums, commissioned by the CAC and ACLU LA, accompanies the exhibition. During a season of discontent and upheaval, more than 400 artists submitted work for consideration.

Make America What America Must Become is inspired by a letter written by philosopher and American commentator James Baldwin to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Baldwin offered an optimistic but urgent message, "Great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.

Co-Curator and CAC Executive Director George Scheer states: “The work in this exhibition speaks urgently to the current political paradigm and reflects broadly on the conjuring and churning of the American condition. This is the art of our time, and the depth and abundance of submissions reveal the strength of artistic voices throughout the region. As our institution and others face a once in a lifetime challenge, the CAC reaffirms its commitment to being a touchstone for Contemporary Art in the Gulf South and an asset to its artists.”  Scheer worked alongside Co-Curator Katrina Neumann, Director, Private Collection, and Curatorial Consultant Toccarra A. H. Thomas, Director of the Joan Mitchell Center, to select the artists for the CAC’s seventh annual open call exhibition. 

Make America What America Must Become 
Artist Roster

Langston Allston (LA) | Jacksun Bein (LA)| Lauren Cardenas (MS) | Veronica Ceci (TX)  | Artist Collaboration (LA): Savannah Levin, Lacy Levin, Nelle Edge, Caitlin, Natalia Roa, Elias Serhan, Antonia Zennaro |  Kjelshus Collins (LA) | Veronica Cross (LA) | Luis Cruz Azaceta (LA) | Jeffery Darensbourg (Bulbancha) | Stephen Paul Day (LA) | Su Ecenia  (FL) | AnnieLaurie Erickson (LA) | Adam Farcus (TX) | André Fuqua (TX) | Coulter Fussell (MS) | Dustin Harewood (FL) | Sarah Hill (LA) | Ariel René Jackson (TX) | C E Johnson (AL) | Darryl Lauster (TX) | Krystle Lemonias (FL) | Fernando Lopez (Bulbancha) | Gabriel Martinez (TX) | Lionel Milton/ELLEONE (LA) | Yue Nakayama (TX) | Ned&ShivaProductions (FL) (Javier Barrera and Lynn Burgos) | Derrick Woods-Morrow (IL) | Ozone 504 (Bulbancha) | Brandan “BMike” Odums (LA) | Edison Peñafiel (FL) | Dan Rule (LA) | Dalila Sanabria (FL) | Caroline Sinders (LA)| Rosalie Smith (LA) | Gabrielle Garcia Steib (LA) | Kristine Thompson (LA) | Monique Verdin (LA) 

For additional information about the artists bio’s, curatorial statement & team, and to view the artists work on the CAC’s exhibition checklist, click here.

The exhibition will  kick off with a Free Opening Weekend September 18 - 20, 2020. On Friday, September 18th, the CAC is honored to present a CAC Members Only exclusive preview;  Saturday, September 19th, CAC will host an on-site free Grand Opening Celebration for the general public with participation by featured artists (timed-ticketing and reservations required) and CAC’s first-ever Virtual Opening Celebration from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with artist panels, a curatorial walk-through and more streamed on Facebook Live.  Sunday, September 20th sees the return of The Helis Foundation Art for All program which offers LA residents complimentary admission, although this Sunday all visitors will enjoy free admission. 

Audiences beyond our four walls will be able to view Make America What America Must Become via a virtual exhibition and a series of online programs throughout the run of the show that will provide greater context for the work and allow audiences to connect with the artists.

In the interest of the well-being of visitors and staff, the CAC will adhere to a limited capacity of 15 visitors per 1.5 hours.  Tickets are only available online at as a timed-ticketed reservation. The CAC requires all visitors to wear a mask or face covering for the duration of their visits, CAC staff are also required to wear masks. Measures are in place to ensure enhanced sanitation and we are adhering to 6ft. social distancing mandates from the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana. We kindly ask that all visitors observe the above measures and precautions during their visit to the CAC.  

We encourage groups of 10 to Social Distance with Art and enjoy a 20% discount off CAC gallery admissions. To reserve tickets, visit We encourage all patrons to review our  Health and Safety guidelines before visiting the CAC. While the exhibition is on view, the CAC’s hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Monday. 

Make America What America Must Become 

Opening Weekend Schedule
CAC Members-Only Preview
Friday, September 18
Time: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Description: A dedicated preview for CAC members only
Location: CAC Galleries, 900 Camp Street
Tickets:  To become a CAC Member and reserve a Friday, September 18 - CAC Member ticket, visit

Make America What America Must Become On-Site and Virtual Grand Opening with Participating Artists & Friends
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Time: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Description: Exhibition opening for the general public, joined by select exhibition artists and CAC Artist, Educator, and Student Members
Location: CAC Galleries, 900 Camp Street
Tickets: Free Admission for all. Reserve a General Admission ticket for Saturday, September 19 in advance at

CAC Virtual Opening Night Celebration
Saturday, September 19, 2020 
Time: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 
Description: Join us for an art-filled virtual opening night celebration featuring art, music, and conversations on Facebook Live! The evening’s events will include: an exhibition walk through with exhibition Co-Curator and CAC Executive Director George Scheer, Co-Curator Katrina Neumann, and Curatorial Consultant Toccarra A.H. Thomas, Director of the Joan Mitchell Center, a conversation and performance with Brandan "BMike" Odums and a panel discussion entitled "What America Must Become," moderated by Curatorial Consultant Toccara A. H. Thomas, featuring artists Derrick Woods-Morrow, AnnieLaurie Erickson, Lauren Cardenas, and Jeffery Darensbourg. 
Location: Facebook Live
Tickets: Streamed on Facebook Live. RSVP to the Facebook Event, here

The Helis Foundation Art for All Sunday
  Sunday, September 20, 2020
Time:  11 a.m. - 5p.m.
Description:    This Sunday marks the return of The Helis Foundation Art for All program which offers LA residents complimentary admission, although this Sunday all visitors will enjoy free admission. Subsequent Sundays and through the run of the exhibition, Museum admission is free on Sundays for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation.
Location:  CAC Galleries, 900 Camp Street
Tickets: Free Admission for all. Reserve a General Admission ticket for Sunday, September 20 and other dates,  in advance at

On View: Make America What America Must Become
Friday, September 18, 2020 - Sunday, January 24, 2021
Time: Wednesday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (galleries closed on Tuesday)
CAC Location: CAC Galleries, 900 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 
Description: CAC exhibition open to the public with limited capacity, informed by timed-ticketing reserved online at
Tickets: Reserve Your Advanced Tickets, online only at

Make America What America Must Become is organized and presented by the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans. Support for this exhibition is provided by Sydney & Walda Besthoff, The Helis Foundation, and the Welch Family Fund. This exhibition is also supported by the City of New Orleans through a Community Arts Grant, as well as by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. 

In an effort to strengthen artists in building professional skills, the CAC is launching its 2020-2021  Visual and Performing Arts Residencies and Artist Professional Development Workshops, the primary goals of which are to strengthen artistic practices by providing artists with dedicated institutional support from the CAC that can range from studio space and rehearsal space to production and technical support and to seminars in financial literacy, marketing and more. 

In its continuous commitment to the youth of New Orleans, the CAC is currently recruiting for its 2020-2021 Teen Board, a hands-on curatorial and arts education experience for teens that serves as a pathway to build professional skills in the arts. 

Although onsite public programs and performances remain limited until public health and safety conditions improve for large-scale group gatherings, the CAC continues to bring art into your home through a series of digital programs that aim to engage audiences and help create greater context around the artists and programs that will be presented at the CAC during the 2020-2021 season,  including the following:

  • Inter[SECTOR]: Online discussions that connect artists with policy makers to discuss relevant issues
  • StudioV: Online studio visits open to CAC Members with renowned artists from around the world
  • Delfeayo & Friends: Bi-weekly online happy hours hosted by trombonist and composer Delfeayo Marsalis featuring special guests


About the CAC

The CAC is a multidisciplinary arts center that is dedicated to the presentation, production, and promotion of the art of our time. The CAC is a cultural leader. As such, it organizes, presents, and tours curated exhibitions, performances and programs by local, regional, national, and international artists. It demonstrates proactive local and regional leadership by educating children and adults, cultivating and growing audiences, and initiating and encouraging collaboration among diverse artists, institutions, communities, and supporters.  Museum admission is free on Sundays for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation.  Children & Students through Grade 12 and under receive free admission courtesy of The Helis Foundation. The CAC is located at 900 Camp Street, 504 528-3805. For more information about CAC  and to sign up for updates, visit

For Additional Information Contact:

Laura B. Tennyson
Associate Director of Communications
Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans
504 319-9943

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