Roman Candy Cart (and mule) presented presented on a silver ground encrusted in recycled Mardi Gras beads.
To most people, Mardi Gras beads are only important during the season and quickly lose their luster once the parades have stopped rolling. Not for me. I love finding the unique strands from the 60s and 70s that other people call “gutter beads”. I crave the unusually shaped and colored ones, and admire the way the newer beads glitter and shine in the sunlight. I stand on the sidewalk side for every parade throughout the season, gathering materials to make my art in hopes of collecting a year’s worth of goodies until the next Mardi Gras rolls around.
Using culturally iconic imagery representative of New Orleans, because the material lends itself so, and borrowing the ideals of Neo-Impressionistic Pointillism, I hope to elevate what may be considered kitsch to a level of fine art. The resulting play of light and color attempts to recall the ideals of historically significant fine art pieces while adding a new dimension of glitter and shine through the use of metallic, plastic, and luminescent beads.
In preparation for the formal construction of each piece I first paint my imagery essentially creating a fully realized template to follow. The beads are then meticulously sorted by size, shade, and shape, and cut apart to individual pieces creating a detailed and varied palette; much like a painter would prepare hues for painting. I then bead the work by gluing the beads directly onto the canvas, encrusting it entirely in texture, light, and color. The illusion of three-dimensional space is often created through the use of perspective and shading, but also the variety of size of the beads I use creates actual dimension adding an element of bas-relief. The finished works are stunning to regard both from a distance and upon close inspection of the highly detailed craftsmanship.
Tama Distler is a New Orleans artist living and working in the Garden District neighborhood.GARDEN DISTRICT
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