Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, a project of the Arts Council New Orleans announces local artist Jessica Strahan was selected to complete the first mural for Unframed 2.0. Premiering last year, Unframed is downtown New Orleans’ first collection of large-scale murals. A native New Orleanian and Black artist, Strahan is the first of three muralists to be announced from the Unframed 2.0 international call to womxn artists. The Unframed call to artists resulted in more than 82 submissions seeking to design three walls to join the existing collection of five murals surrounding and within the New Orleans Arts District.

“The Helis Foundation is committed to advancing the accessibility of art, providing opportunities for artists, and bringing world-class artwork to the City of New Orleans,” said David Kerstein, President of The Helis Foundation. “We are proud to recognize the talents and achievements of local artist Jessica Strahan and share her work in a public space through her first mural commission.”

New Orleans Youth Invited to Contribute to Strahan’s Mural Design

Strahan’s mural proposal is an extension of her “You Are What You Eat” series and will depict mothers and children across cultures. Strahan is inviting community youth from pre-K–12th grade to participate in her mural design process. Interested participants can view a video about the project and download a mural activity kit on the Arts Council website  (www.artsneworleans.org/unframed/mural-activity-kit/), which offers prompts for youth to explore and share their heritage, culture and culinary traditions. The submission deadline is July 1.

Strahan will select three youth submissions to inspire her mural design. Winners will receive a print of Jessica Strahan’s work, an Arts Council “Art in Everything” T-Shirt, and a $50 Visa gift card.

“Within each iteration of Unframed we are committed to providing opportunities to develop local youth and emerging artists,” Arts Council Executive Director Alphonse Smith said. “This activity engages local youth in a time of social distancing, while also providing an opportunity for youth and parents to have valuable conversations about culture.”

Strahan is inspired by the vibrancy of the Crescent City as well as the African diaspora. Her artwork consistently depicts the city's rich culture, distinctive landmarks, and colorful people juxtaposed with tribes of Africa. With works already on the walls of homes in London, England, New York City, and Athens, Greece, Strahan is set on sharing her art throughout the world. Her recent works include the Treme Fall Fest poster, an art installation with Felicity Redevelopment, and 300 for 300 Where Y’art in partnership with the Times-Picayune. Strahan was also the 2019 winner of The Helis Foundation Art Prize for Louisiana Contemporary at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, selected by the exhibit’s juror, David Breslin, Director of Curatorial Initiatives at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Unframed 2.0 is the second edition of downtown New Orleans’ largest signature mural collection that brings the vibrancy of the New Orleans Arts District from the gallery walls into the streets. Future artists and mural locations will be announced in partnership with the Downtown Development District and Arts District of New Orleans Association in the coming months.

For more information on Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, a project of the Arts Council New Orleans and the Unframed 2.0 youth contest and guidelines, visit http://www.artsneworleans.org/unframed/ or https://thehelisfoundation.org/what-we-fund/unframed/.


The Helis Foundation (thehelisfoundation.org) is a Louisiana private foundation, established and funded by the William Helis Family. The Helis Foundation’s resources and objectives are divided into two areas: the general fund, and the Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin Art Funds. The general fund focuses on community needs primarily within the Metropolitan New Orleans area by granting funds to numerous local nonprofit organizations. The Art Funds were established exclusively by bequests from Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin upon their deaths. The Art Funds make grants to sustain operations, to provide free admission to, and to acquire significant art works on behalf of major institutions and cultural organizations within the Metropolitan New Orleans area.

Arts Council New Orleans (artsneworleans.org): Unframed builds upon the Arts Council’s experience in mural curation and established partnerships with public and private entities. Notably, the Arts Council coordinated the creation of 10 murals across the Fat City Neighborhood and has organized murals for the One Time in New Orleans Campaign in partnership with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Building on the abundant cultural wealth and creativity of our community, the Arts Council envisions a New Orleans in which arts and culture play a pivotal role in all areas of policy, planning, and placemaking.


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