NEW ORLEANS (October 7, 2021)— The Helis Foundation and Arts Council New Orleans continue their collaboration on downtown New Orleans’ growing mural project with the announcement of Unframed 3.0. As the third installment of Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, a project of Arts Council New Orleans, local New Orleans artist Ayo Scott and internationally-renowned artist Sanford Biggers will create two prodigious murals for New Orleans’ signature collection of large-scale murals. Premiering in 2019, with the addition of these two new works, Unframed has quickly grown to nine murals in the Arts District and continues to highlight the vibrancy of New Orleans as an international cultural center.
“The Arts Council is pleased to commission two incredible artists, Sanford Biggers and Ayo Scott, to create world-class murals in New Orleans Arts District,” Arts Council’s Interim Executive Director Joycelyn Reynolds said.
“We believe art must be a part of our everyday lives and these works will be on facades of the Contemporary Arts Center and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for residents and visitors to enjoy for many years to come.”
New Orleanian artist Ayo Scott is near completion of his mural Lessons at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, located at 938 Lafayette St, where The Helis Foundation John Scott Center will open early 2022. As the son of the late artist, Xavier professor, and MacArthur Genius, John T. Scott, his mural is an ode to generations of New Orleanians, with depictions of his father’s well-known public sculptures Spirit House and Ocean Song, and his young daughter dressed as Wonder Woman holding a daisy as tribute to his mother.
New York City-based conceptual artist, Sanford Biggers’ mural will be installed on the west-facing wall of the Contemporary Arts Center on Camp Street. Biggers’ most recent work includes several public art exhibitions at Rockefeller Center in New York City, including a 25-foot-tall bronze sculpture at the Fifth Avenue entrance titled Oracle, and an solo museum exhibition, Codeswitch, which travelled from the Bronx Museum of The Arts and is currently on view at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles until January 23, 2022.
Local artists, Wendo Brunoir, a New Orleans native and Best in Show winner of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s annual Louisiana Contemporary presented by The Helis Foundation 2020 and his partner, JoLean Laborde, will execute the mural which will be completed in October 2021.
About the Artists
Ayo Scott’s originally painted as a means of letting go of life’s curveballs, such as the death of his father, grad school and post-Katrina New Orleans. Those curveballs brought grief, but also a purpose, to Scott’s art. After seeing the face of a city change so quickly, he began creating to preserve and magnify pieces of what makes the city special. While much of his work abstract, his subject is now focused on ways to celebrate the defenders of the spirit of New Orleans.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Ayo Scott is a graduate of Ben Franklin High School and Xavier University. He entered grad school at The Institute of Design in Chicago before taking a year off to create a series of paintings inspired by the tsunami of 2004. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans the year after, prompting Scott to immediately return home to New Orleans. While living in his parents gutted home in the Gentilly neighborhood, he started a clothing and design company which continued for several years until he began to drift from commercial work toward his own artistic projects.
Sanford Biggers’ work is an interplay of narrative, perspective, and history that speaks to current social, political, and economic happenings while also examining the contexts that bore them. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often-overlooked cultural and political narratives from American history. Working with antique quilts that echo rumors of their use as signposts on the Underground Railroad, he engages these legends and contributes to this narrative by drawing and painting directly onto them. In his BAM series, Biggers seeks to memorialize and honor victims of police violence in the U.S., pointing towards recent transgressions and elevating the stories of specific individuals to combat historical amnesia. This series is composed of fragments of wooden African statues that are dipped and veiled with thick wax and then ballistically ‘resculpted.’ Biggers then cast the remnants into bronze, a historically noble and weighty medium. Each sculpture is named and dedicated after unarmed victims who have died at the hands of law enforcement. Following a residency as a 2017 American Academy Fellow in Rome, the artist began working in marble. Drawing on and playing with the tradition of working in this medium, Biggers’ series entitled Chimeras creates hybridized forms that transpose, combine and juxtapose classical and historical subjects to create alternative meanings and produce what he calls “future ethnographies.” As creative director and keyboardist, he fronts Moon Medicin, a multimedia concept band that straddles visual arts and music with performances staged against a backdrop of curated sound effects and video. Moon Medicin performed at Open Spaces Kansas City in October 2018 and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in April 2019.
Sanford Biggers (b. 1970) was raised in Los Angeles and currently lives and works in New York City. He is the recipient of numerous awards. Most recently, he was appointed the 2021-2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor and Scholar in the MIT Department of Architecture. In February 2021, he received Savannah College of Art & Design’s deFINE Art Award; in 2020, he was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and appointed Board President at Sculpture Center; in 2019, he was inducted into the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame; in 2018, he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award. In 2017, he was presented the 2017 Rome Prize in Visual Arts.
About the Partners
The Helis Foundation 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 by bequests from Diana Helis Henry and Adrienne Helis Malvin. The Art Funds make grants to sustain operations, to provide free admission to, to acquire significant art works on behalf of major institutions, and site artwork in public spaces within the Metropolitan New Orleans area.
Arts Council New Orleans is a private 501(c)3 nonprofit organization designated as the official arts agency for the City of New Orleans. Arts Council New Orleans’ mission is to improve the quality of life in New Orleans by supporting, activating, and investing in the city’s greatest natural resource: artists, cultural producers, and the creative community. Programs include Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation, Arts Market New Orleans, Young Artist Movement (YAM), LUNA Fête, and grantmaking, as well as commission and community projects.