A Victorious Unveiling

by Alphonse Smith

by Alphonse Smith, Arts Council Associate Director of Place & Creative Intervention 

Arts Council New Orleans

On July 1, local artists and art enthusiasts gathered in downtown New Orleans to celebrate the unveiling of Incomplete, a mural collaboration between Ti-Rock Moore and Brandan Odums. Despite gray clouds and looming rain, over 50 spectators gathered at the Bruno & Bruno Law Firm to celebrate the 40-foot mural’s unveiling. The design was inspired by Hurricane Katrina and the second-century Greek sculpture Winged Victory of Samothrace, which is in the Louvre’s collection in Paris.

Ti-Rock, known for her sculptures and installations with anti-racism messages, was awarded funds to create Incomplete as part of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Mural Project sponsored by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. With the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, the Artisan Series finalist envisioned Incomplete as a symbol that celebrates New Orleans’ post-Katrina progress, but remembers those who were displaced.

“[Incomplete] is the perfect symbol – a Phoenix – to represent the rebirth of New Orleans,” Ti-Rock writes in a statement on the piece. “Both New Orleans and Incomplete are broken yet victorious, proud, and beautiful – yet in my opinion not complete, because there are tens of thousands of people who were displaced after the storm, and unable to return home due to lack of public housing or money.”

Arts Council New OrleansTi-Rock goes on to describe her inspirational encounter with the Hellenistic-era sculpture while visiting the Louvre:

“The mural includes the stairs that you ascend to see the statue,” Ti-Rock explained. “The stairs represent the thousands of homes that were destroyed and washed off their foundations by the breaking of the improperly built levees, only leaving behind the front stairs leading to the front door.”

Ti-Rock collaborated with fellow NOCCA alumnus Brandan Odums, known for civil rights and black history-inspired murals. Odums recently spearheaded Exhibit BE, a large-scale collaborative mural project created within the enormous blighted West Bank property, De Gaulle Manor. Though not an official Prospect 3 exhibit, Exhibit BE was the best-attended exhibit during the Biennial. Odums painted Incomplete in three days, further evidence of his exceptional ability as a muralist.

In traditional New Orleans fashion, a second line led by the New Breed Brass Band concluded the unveiling, followed by a post-unveiling celebration sponsored by Bombay Sapphire. The mural’s unveiling concluded a three-city unveiling spearheaded by Chicago marketing company, Common Ground Marketing. Houston and San Francisco were also host cities.

“The Mural Arts Project was a wonderful way to punctuate the Artisan Series program,” Common Ground said in a statement. “In every market, the murals beautify the neighborhood, inspire the community, and gave additional exposure to our winning artists. This was a great addition to an already life-changing program.”

To view the mural, visit the Bruno & Bruno Law Firm, located at 855 Baronne Street.