Gilbert and artist/collaborator Babette Beaullieu ushered in the 2012 hurricane season with a new hybrid of Cajun Prayer Flags fluttering with deeply textured imagery of Cajun Mardi Gras costumes in Acadiana. This meditative shrine/installation re-purposes the back yard of The Front St. Claude Arts District gallery and its chain link fence. Paper and pen are provided as an interactive component for passersby, encouraging them to join in by offering their personal wishes or prayers and tying them to the fence amidst its dead, clinging vines. This ritual and these devotional offerings are borrowed and blended traditions from Tibetan, Japanese, and Cajun cultures.
Babette Beaullieu and I further have developed what our Cajun Prayer Flags also known as the Louisiana Prayer Flag Project which has traveled to several locations across Louisiana and extended beyond the State to communities via New York State schools and Maison Gai Saber artist residency in the Poitiers Region of France.
Since Spring 2012 we have collaborated working with communities conducting workshops with all ages gathering stories and valuing heritage and the resilience which arises therefrom. We aim to foster awareness and appreciation for these cultural assets/qualities/tools the culture of Louisiana has to give to the world.
Through workshops and installations in elementary schools, high schools, universities and at festivals, we guide participants in creating original prayer flag designs representing their own personal culture: what they are truly embracing in their religion, food, music, family traditions. Each person produces a flag design from photography/written stories /small objects/fabric /paper.
LOUISIANA PRAYER FLAGS – PORCH STORIES is an installation which was on view at Urban Sidewalk Installation Space for the whole of 2017 including as a Prospect New Orleans, P.S. satellite program venue also appearing as part of an interactive installation at Goat in the Road’s Get Your Art On (2017) at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Music Box Village (2018). It is an invitation to celebrate, look with deeper appreciation, and reflect on who we are today in Louisiana – this lively layering of many racial/cultural backgrounds – and to share this reflection in dialogue with a wider audience.