Queens Rule! exhibition

by Lindsay Glatz

Art Council New Orleans

Art Council New Orleans

Arts Council New Orleans presents: 

The Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame and The Donald Harrison, Sr. Museum present the 50th Anniversary of the “Folk Art Show at the New Orleans Public Library” and Queens Rule! XIII

March 31, 2015 to April 14, 2015  at the Arts Council Gallery

Exhibition Catalogue Introduction by Cherice Harrison – Nelson, Co-Founder, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame:

“I am the pretty, pretty queen!” is a mantra recited by women throughout the city of New Orleans on Mardi Gras day.  It denotes not only a physical beauty, but also an internal beauty personified.  It is the self knowledge of beauty manifested after hours to create a masterpiece based on and affirmed by, community standards of “pretty.”  The standard is not centered on traditional Western aesthetics, i.e. height, weight, skin tone, leg gap, or body measurements. It is, rather, the beauty of the tradition embodied. Each woman is an artist and her body is a blank canvas.  This canvas is created by her choice of design, materials, representations, symbols, style, color, and technique/methodology of adornment. 

The Queens rule exhibit honors women who create and wear the ceremonial attire referred to as a “suit,” and those who participate in the African American carnival masquerading traditional originally known as “masking Indian.” As with all the traditional cultural phenomena, it is a state of constant evolution. Today, participants identify themselves by many names, including Mardi Gras Indians, Black Indians, Maroons, and members of Afro-New Orleans Nations.  Again, the beauty of the tradition is that is allows participants to be self-actualized in any manner that is personally and culturally appropriate to their own visions and sensibilities.  

This exhibit is the thirteenth installment of the Queens Rule! Queens Rule is a program of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame.  It began as the result of Rebecca Mark, PhD, then interim director of the Newcomb Institute, at Tulane University, wanting to collaborate with queens to establish appropriate ways to provide services that would advance stabilization of the community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  

Strategy meetings started in November of 2005 and our first public event was held in 2007 on Tulane University’s campus. Since then, we have had a number of firsts: first exhibit to feature queens at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; first exhibit to feature art photographs, ceremonial attire, historical artifacts, and art inspired by queens and creative artists from other genres (glass, shoe fashion, portraiture, sketch, and quilting) at a major African American museum. 

Herrest J. Harrison coined the name “Queens Rule!” She was correct, Queens Rule!

May they reign forever and ever more.