Making Connections: With Donna Dodson

Maria Berrio, "Syzygy", 2017, collage with Japanese paper, watercolor, and charcoal on canvas, 96” x 140” (Courtesy of the artist and Praxis Gallery, New York and Buenos Aires).

by Donna Dodson

According to the Biennial Foundation, Prospect New Orleans is one of only 20 biennials/triennials in the United States out of approximately 200 internationally. The current edition, Prospect.4, is curated by Trevor Schoonmaker, who is also the curator of contemporary art at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art.

Looking at New Orleans as a nexus of cultures, P.4 features over 70 artists from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and the United States. At the grand opening, Schoonmaker said, “New Orleans is like no other city in the world, and is completely unique as an American city. It is the most European and the most African city in the United States. It is frequently called the northernmost Caribbean city and is still distinctly of, and in, the American South. Its rich history and culture provide bound-less inspiration for artists from all over the world.”

Working alongside Schoonmaker is Ylva Rouse, who stepped into the role of interim director this year after working as Prospect New Orleans’ curator since its inception in 2007. In addition to many well-known artists in the global art circuit, P.4 has some big surprises. “I am so excited that Prospect.4 will include collages made by Louis Armstrong, being shown for the first time ever in New Orleans at the Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint,” said Rouse.

Prospect.4, which opened on November 18, features over 20 special art gallery and museum exhibitions, pub-lic art installations and pop-up events all over the city through February 25.
Not to be missed is the Contemporary Arts Center and the exhibition “The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp,” curated by Trevor Schoonmaker. One artist really stands out: Colombian-born, Brooklyn-based Maria Berrio. Her large-scale, multicolored, paper collage triptych, “Aluna, Syzygy and Wildflowers,” has lush visual narratives featuring women, animals and mythical beings that are full of magical real-ism and provide a feeling of optimism for the current state of the world.

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