This is the first panel of a triptych entitled “The Story of Nola Watters”. Each panel measures 12″ x 12″. Carnivale (Mardi Gras) is the season of wild abandon that precedes the introspective season of Lent. It has a long history in Europe, and like a plant, runners shot out and rooted themselves in various New World places, including New Orleans.
Panel 2 of the triptych is hurricane season 2005. The disasters of hurricanes and failed levees inseparably commingled treasures and trash.
This is the third panel of the triptych. NOLA is common shorthand for “New Orleans, Louisiana,” but I always think of Nola as a woman. Nola Watters is a composite portrait of several women whose homes were damaged by the flood in 2005. I was one of the thousands of people who traveled to New Orleans in 2006 to muck out homes in order to save their owners from having to relinquish their property to the city.
Ms. Watters is pictured in front of her refurbished home and wearing the costume of a Mardi Gras Indian. African Americans in New Orleans have traditionally dressed as “Indians” during Mardi Gras for several reasons, including honoring the tribes which sheltered run-away slaves in the past.