Collage Artist Residency: Joy as Subject: Mardi Gras


Joy as Subject: Mardi Gras

at Kolaj Institute
24-28 January 2024

A five-day, in-person collage artist residency in New Orleans

About the Residency

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” (Joseph Campbell)

There is no more of a joyful time in New Orleans than Carnival. From Epiphany (January 6th) to forty days before the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox (or what most people call Mardi Gras), New Orleanians celebrate. They host elaborate balls; they gather with family; they eat king cake; and most famously, they parade in the streets. These parades can be large-scale spectacles on professionally-designed and constructed floats pulled by tractors or homemade contraptions that are pushed or pulled by walkers. Costumes are essential. During parades, riders (or walkers) throw beads and other trinkets to the crowd. Lost in the moment, middle-aged men become eager boys reaching their hands up to catch a coconut. This is joy.

Consider this: Immune cells have neurotransmitters that pick up on whether we are stressed or happy, depressed or relaxed. As such, our emotional well-being is intrinsically tied to our physical wellness. What can artists do with this fact of life? Joy is a powerful emotion. From great pleasure to simple satisfaction, joy can reduce stress and pain and, as one Harvard study found, help us live longer. Can art be a source of joy?

In this in-person residency, collage artists will explore joy as subject and consider how to bring joy into one’s practice. Madera E. Rogers-Henry of The Recycle Challenge will lead a workshop. Working with the Mystic Krewe of Scissors & Glue, residents will collaborate on a collage-themed, informal-walking parade that will take place on ‘tit Rex Sunday (January 28th), which will be joined by members of The Recycle Challenge.

Through presentations, guest speakers, and museum visits, artists will explore joy as subject, the history of Carnival, and other artists whose work is designed to bring joy to its viewers. Topics will explore the intersection of craft, contemporary art, social practice, and culture work; collaboration and community building; how to start and maintain a collage community; sharing joy and art with others; and the technology of Art as experience. During the residency, Madera E. Rogers-Henry, the founder of The Recycle Challenge, will provide artists with a unique opportunity to learn about the New Orleans walking parade culture and explore the use of recycling materials in art. Through an intimate collage costume workshop, participants will create innovative costumes while also gaining insight into Rogers-Henry’s organization and its philosophies.

Artists will leave the residency with a sense of how to incorporate joy into their artist practice. Kolaj Institute will make a short film and zine about the project that will be shown at Kolaj Fest New Orleans on a panel about Joy as Subject, on which the artists will be invited to take part.

Participating Artists

Kolaj Institute is excited to announce the five artists from Canada and across the United States that were selected to participate in this five-day residency in New Orleans.

Bike Riding by Brenda Bokenyi
4″x6″; collage with handmade paper; 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Portland, Oregon-based artist Brenda Bokenyi is inspired by children’s book artist Eric Carle. Bokenyi makes her own paper using pastels and tissue paper, which she cuts to create collage illustrations. She holds a BA in Fine Arts from Brandeis University and an MEd. in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University. A lifelong bilingual Spanish educator, she currently works as a reading interventionist in the Spanish Immersion program.

Talking Paper by Lisa Pijuan-Nomura
10″x10″; painted paper with vintage ephemera; 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Lisa Pijuan-Nomura‘s collage is a fusion of vintage and painted papers, words, and colours. Her work has been shown at the Royal Botanical Gardens and has been published in numerous magazines. She received the the 2014 Hamilton Arts Award for Performance, 2019 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Arts, Design and Culture, and the 2022 Luminato AiR. She was an artist-in-residence in Talinn, Estonia as the recipient of the 2022 European Artist Exchange. Her work will be shown in 2024 at Gallery 206 in Hamilton, Ontario; at The Artist Project in Toronto; and as parts of residencies at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto and Chateaux Orquevaux in France. The artist lives and works in Hamilton, Ontario.

Virtual Vacation, Massage in Marrakech by Liz Scotta
14″x17″; collage; 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Liz Scotta studied printmaking at City College of San Francisco (CCSF). Since the 1990s, her collages, quilts, watercolors, monoprints and viscosity monoprints have been shown widely in the San Francisco Bay Area and virtually. She has published three books: My Sketchbook of San Miguel de Allende (2013), Travels with a Sketchbook (2015), and Not Just Paris: Scenes from France (2023). Originally from Stafford Springs, Connecticut, the artist currently lives and works in San Francisco, California.

Miss Bellows Falls by Trish Baggott
12″x12″; collage of wallpaper fragments, paper fragments and magazine cutouts with matte medium on canvas; 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

Trish Baggott has been an exhibiting artist since 2006, and began working with collage as her primary medium in 2021. Baggott was part of the Collage Artist Residency: Scotland in Sanquhar, Scotland in September 2022. Her work from that residency was published by Kolaj Institute in Folklore of the Upper Nithsdale in 2023 and shown in Sanquhar and at the Knoxville Museum of Art. In March 2023, she was the working gallery artist at Canal Street Art Gallery in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and will return for March 2024. Her collage work was shown in numerous juried exhibitions in 2023, including Hull Artists Regional Juried Show and the 2023 South Shore Arts Center Festival Exhibition in Cohasset, Massachusetts. She is currently focused on private collage commissions. The artist lives and works in Hull, Massachusetts.

Do You Submit to Worldly Treasures? by Wendy French Barrett
repurposed childhood photo of a stranger with waterslide decals and spray paint; 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

Wendy French Barrett grew up on her mama’s kitchen stool begging to get her hands dirty in the tiny West Tennessee town of Parsons. She has worked as a photographer’s assistant, 9th grade English teacher, HR manager, and sold flavored butters on Andrew Jackson’s front yard. She started collaging when she was a child. Now it is the most meaningful meditation of her life and helps her to feel like she should take up space in the world. The artist lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee.

About the Faculty

Christopher Kurts is a storyteller and artist in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the Coordinator for Kolaj Institute, where he has organized artist labs, residencies, workshops and forums which have often led to exhibitions and publications. In this role, Kurts acted as the Art Director for Kolaj Institute’s Oh, Money! Money! by Eleanor H. Porter, illustrated and interpreted by contemporary collage artists. His own work recently appeared in the exhibition, “Empty Columns are a Place to Dream” which debuted in August 2021 during the 53rd Annual Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland. In January 2022, Kolaj Institute published a book about the project and the exhibition traveled to the Knoxville Museum of Art in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kurts is also the co-founder and lead organizer for The Mystic Krewe of Scissors and Glue, a group of creatives in New Orleans who meet monthly to collage, converse and foster community. Along with the Krewe, Kurts helped organize “Unfamiliar Vegetables”, a group exhibition for Kolaj Fest New Orleans in July 2019, which was later published as a book.

Ric Kasini Kadour, a 2021 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts Curatorial Fellow, is a writer, artist, publisher, and cultural worker. Working with the Vermont Arts Council, Kadour curated four exhibits: “Connection: The Art of Coming Together” (2017) and Vermont Artists to Watch 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2017, he curated “The Art of Winter” at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery in Burlington, Vermont. In 2018, Kadour curated “Revolutionary Paths: Critical Issues in Collage” at Antenna Gallery in New Orleans, which bought together collage artists whose work represents the potential for deeper inquiry and further curatorial exploration of the medium; followed in 2019 by “Cultural Deconstructions: Critical Issues in Collage” at LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans, which furthered the conversation; and “Amuse Bouche”, also at LeMieux Galleries in 2023. Since 2018, he has produced Kolaj Fest New Orleans, a multi-day festival & symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society. As Curator of Contemporary Art at Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont in 2019 and 2020, he curated three exhibitions, “Rokeby Through the Lens” (May 19-June 16, 2019), “Structures” (August 24-October 27, 2019), and “Mending Fences: New Works by Carol MacDonald” (July 12-October 25, 2020). He also curated “Contemporary American Regionalism: Vermont Perspectives” (August 17-October 20, 2019); “Where the Sun Casts No Shadow: Postcards from the Creative Crossroads of Quito, Ecuador” (November 1-30, 2019); and “Many Americas” (August 20-November 27, 2022) in the Wilson Museum & Galleries at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. “The Money $how”, co-curated with Frank Juarez, was presented at the AIR Space Gallery at Saint Kate-The Arts Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (April 10-September 12, 2021). For Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland (August 13-20, 2021), he curated “Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream”, which traveled to the Knoxville Museum of Art in January-February 2022. At 516 ARTS in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Kadour co-curated with Alicia Inez Guzmàn two exhibitions: “Many Worlds Are Born” (February 19-May 14, 2022) and “Technologies of the Spirit” (June 11-September 3, 2022). In 2023 at the Knoxville Museum of Art, Kadour curated “Where the Sun Casts No Shadow: Postcards from the Creative Crossroads of Quito, Ecuador” (January 9-February 16, 2023) and “Mystical Landscape: Secrets of the Vale” (March 17-May 28, 2023), travelled to A’ the Airts in Sanquhar, Scotland in September 2023. His short film, The Covenant of Schwitters’ Army, debuted at Collage on Screen during Kolaj Fest New Orleans 2023. Kadour is the editor and publisher of Kolaj Magazine. He has written for a number of galleries and his writing has appeared in Hyperallergic, OEI, Vermont Magazine, Seven Days, Seattle Weekly, Art New England (where he was the former Vermont editor) and many others. Kadour maintains an active art practice and his photography, collage, and sculpture have been exhibited in and are part of private collections in Australia, Europe and North America. In January-February 2020, he was artist-in-residence at MERZ Gallery in Sanquhar, Scotland. He holds a BA in Comparative Religion from the University of Vermont. Kadour splits his time between Montreal and New Orleans.

Madera E. Rogers-Henry is a self-taught artist, born in El Paso, Texas in 1958. Her work is truly remarkable as she uses collage art intertwined with 3-D and mixed media to incorporate recycled materials to create large-scale canvases, masks, paper dresses, jewelry, and hand fans. She draws inspiration from her global perspective of living life in countries such as Montreal, Quebec, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico and Stuttgart, Germany. Adding cities such as Denver, and Brooklyn allow her to experience the rich African influences within each locale. New Orleans parade culture provides an infusion of celebration to expand the range of artwork to include costumes, masks, and mini floats. The use of natural colors sourced from magazines, tissue paper, cardboard packaging, and newspapers is simply captivating. Each completed artwork tells a story of recycling materials that are diverted from landfills. There’s a celebration to honor the human experience. Her commitment to environmentalism, and how she integrates performing arts and visual art to bring her imagination to life. Rogers-Henry’s art is not only visually stunning but also carries important messages of sustainability, cultural preservation, and diversity. Her work reflects her deep understanding of the interconnectedness between art, nature, and community. She inspires others to thrive through dynamic collaborations, community initiatives, and dedication to creating a more sustainable world. For the past ten years, the former integrated – art teacher, calls New Orleans home. Returning to being an emerging artist of fourteen years. She allows her environment to fine-tune her artistic repertoire which extends beyond traditional mediums to include large-scale paper & fiber canvasses utilizing paints, fibers, and recycled items. Rogers-Henry’s dedication to incorporating recycled materials into her artistic creations has garnered attention from private collectors in the New Orleans area. From April 2023 to September 2023, St. Roch Market on St. Claude Avenue served as a showroom, a crafting and recycling station for Rogers-Henry’s artwork, showcasing her commitment to sustainability. During this time, the station also featured recycled hats from the Milliners Association of Nigeria, adding an international element to the display. In 2022, Rogers-Henry’s krewe of artists and youth participated in “The Green Beans Krewe” walking parade for Lundi Gras, wearing costumes made from recycled newspapers to showcase her commitment to sustainability. Rogers-Henry’s artwork has been featured in various exhibitions and collaborations. For March 2022, her collaborative efforts with her team of artists and her paper jewelry were purchased and featured in the JAMNOLA gift shop, providing an opportunity for a wider audience. In 2018, six large-scale hand fans were prominently displayed at the New Orleans Art Center, showcasing the talent and creativity of Rogers-Henry’s unique art. In 2019, St. Roch Market was once again the venue for a collaborative show, featuring artists from REFOCUS and recycle artists, providing a platform for diverse artistic expressions. Overall, Rogers-Henry’s engagement with different spaces and communities highlights her dedication to promoting sustainable artistic practices and fostering appreciation for recycling.

About the Mystic Krewe of Scissors & Glue

The Mystic Krewe of Scissors & Glue, founded in 2018 by Hope Amico and Christopher Kurts, provides a community for collage artists in New Orleans to connect with each other, from people who have never collaged in their life until they attend a monthly meet-up to artists who have been working with collage for years, to activate spaces around the city with collage, to collaborate on projects, and to give back to the city of New Orleans. Instagram @neworleanscollage