With so much to do in New Orleans, many forget that the city’s art scene is just as vibrant as the food and music. April is a great time to visit a museum, with multiple new openings within the month. Take a break from the busy festival season and check out the highlighted exhibits below.

Ruth Owens, Lessons Lost, 2020, Acrylic, charcoal, glitter, Mylar on paper, 96 x 96 inches, Gift of Gregory Holt and Michael Wilkinson

“Knowing Who We Are” 

Opening April 1 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the next installment of “Knowing Who We Are” draws predominantly from the museum’s permanent collection and traces the development of art in the American South, beginning with academic traditions in landscape and portraiture in the 19th century. As trends in American art changed, so too did the practice of artists in the American South. Although closely aligned with the shifting dialogue in the larger American art scene, art in the American South followed at its own pace – sometimes leading the charge into new territories, while at other times circling back to previously held ground. The exhibit is on view until March 3, 2024. 

“In the Spirit of Black” 

At the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, “In the Spirit of Black” features work created and curated by writer and activist Kalamu ya Salaam; feminist activist, researcher, and artist Shana M. Griffin; photographer and activist Eric Waters; and photographer and historian Girard Mouton, III. The exhibit also includes input from graphic designer and photographer, Lydia Araya; visual artist, writer, and curator, Renee Royale; and a number of other photographers, scholars, designers, artists, writers, and partnering organizations. The exhibition is on view from March 30 – May 27, 2023. 

Photo Courtesy of M.S. Rau, New Orleans
"The Witty World of Patrick Hughes: An Exhibition of 3D Paintings"

“The Witty World of Patrick Hughes: An Exhibition of 3D Paintings” 

M. S. Rau presents “Witty World of Patrick Hughes,” a mesmerizing exhibition showcasing Hughes’ brilliant mind. Experience the optical illusions that have made Hughes a leading figure in contemporary art. See perspective, dimensions, and humor at play through 3D paintings that move with you. The exhibit runs for a limited time only, April 1 – May 30, 2023. 

“Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration” 

From the Contemporary Arts Center comes “Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration.” The exhibition considers the foundational roots of confinement from an art history perspective to better understand the fact that today’s mass incarceration crisis is centuries in the making. The exhibition explores how images throughout time contribute to entrenched cultural beliefs associated with today’s carceral system and includes 12 commissioned artworks from nationally acclaimed contemporary artists whose work combines history, research, and storytelling in material form. The exhibit also features work from two New Orleans-based artists and will host several engaging activities for public participation throughout the run of the show. The exhibit opens April 1 and runs through July 3, 2023. 

Image courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection

“Yet She is Advancing: American Women and the Right to Vote” 

The Historic New Orleans Collection presents: “Yet She is Advancing: American Women and the Right to Vote,” a new exhibit open on April 28. The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution extended the vote to American women in 1920. Its passage served as the crowning achievement of a decades-long struggle by women across the nation to be part of the democratic process. Although divided by race, class, and political strategy, Black and white women in New Orleans played a significant role in the women’s suffrage movement. 

Yet the story of women’s voting rights in New Orleans does not end in 1920. The federal amendment granted all women the right to vote, but Louisiana laws effectively disenfranchised Black women. As many white women began going to the polls and increasing their political participation in segregation-era New Orleans, African American women continued to fight for access to the ballot. From paying their poll taxes to organizing voter registration drives, Black women challenged their status as second-class citizens up to and through the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The exhibition runs through November 5, 2023.

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