Mardi Gras Indians: A Captivating Collaboration

Max Stern, "Man With Pistols."


ROBERT FREEMAN AND MAX STERN: MARDI GRAS INDIANS
ADELSON GALLERIES BOSTON
520 HARRISON AVENUE
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
MARCH 2 THROUGH APRIL 29

by Molly Hamill

When I spoke to him, Bob Freeman was sitting on a bench in the sun outside a gallery in Los Angeles.

Freeman, who taught drawing and painting at Harvard in the 1980s and ‘90s, and whose work has been collected by the likes of the Museum of Fine Arts, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and the National Center of Afro-American Artists, breaks new ground in “Mardi Gras Indians,” a joint show with photographer Max Stern on view at Adelson Galleries Boston from March 2 through April 29.

Stern’s crisp, potent photographs explode with color, movement and exuberance — the images inspired Freeman, who has collected some of Stern’s more abstract work over the years.

“When I saw some of Max’s photographs, I said, ‘Wait a minute — this is pretty exciting stuff!’ He told me, ‘Well, come on down to Super Sunday and see what it’s all about…” We were just knocked out.”

The eight photographs by Stern depict the costumed Mardi Gras Indians — mid-parade. The Mardi Gras (Black) Indians began taking to the streets in the mid-19th century, clad in elaborate, meticulously handcrafted costumes — some adorned with upwards of 150 pounds of beads and feathers.

In “Man With Pistols,” the sherbet-orange-and-yellow-feathered head-dress of a celebratory parader fills the frame. Mouth open, eyes closed, the adorned Indian appears transported.

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