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Arts & Culture

The Many Faces of Marie Laveau: Celebrating a True New Orleans Icon

Marie Laveau

Remember those reports that we had to do in elementary school?  The reports where our teachers made us choose a famous person in history and basically sum up his or her life from what we read in the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Most of my classmates chose Buzz Aldrin, John F. Kennedy, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Me, I chose Marie Laveau.  Yes, that Marie Laveau.  The woman whose name automatically conjures (pun intended) images of voodoo dolls, sacrificed chickens, and dancing with snakes.  Seriously, I just did a google search on her and one of the first links in the search page stated, “Marie LaVeau: Witch Queen of New Orleans.”  Witch Queen?  Totally misleading in my opinion.  This was not the figure that I had researched when I was a kid.  I would never call the woman whose grave I had visited in the Saint Louis Cemetery #1 for my report a witch queen.  While Marie Laveau is often associated with the occult, black magic, or even just basic evil, to me she represented much more than that.

On September 10th, Laveau’s birthday, the Red Star Galarie is commemorating the life of this iconic figure, to celebrate the Marie Laveau that existed outside of Voodoo, a historical amalgamation of mother and daughter.  This event will feature appearances by Priestess Miriam Chamani, musician Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, and the N’Fungola Sibo West African Dance Company.  Jerry Gandolfo, curator of the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, will also be on hand to reinforce Laveau’s historical significance as a nurse and civil rights activist in early New Orleans.  In addition, several local artists–Ayo Scott, Anson, Brandon Delles, Dawn Taylor, Jim Roy, Joe Parker, Matthew Rosenbeck, Shakor, Tracey Jackson, Juan Juan, and Varion Laurent–will display commissioned works that seek to capture the different sides of this mystical and wonderful woman.

Varion Laurent, when asked about the importance of creating a piece for this event said, “Marie Laveau represents to me really what this city is all about.  The pervasiveness, the mysterious, the dynamic nature that embodies her and this city makes it impossible for her to exist anywhere else…she’s commonly mischaracterized because of voodoo.  What falls by the wayside is that Marie Laveau was a devout Catholic, and she used her position in order to do what she did for slaves in her day by using the money she made as a hairdresser in order to purchase freedom for people of color.”

This event celebrates the many faces of Marie Laveau.

“The Many Faces of Marie Laveau”– an event to entertain and educate us all.     This event starts for seven o’clock in the evening and is free to the public.  Come and learn about the woman who once had her finger on the pulse of New Orleans society and used that power in order to serve the people of this city.

Red Star Galarie
2513 Bayou Rd.
Friday, Sept. 10, 7:00pm

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