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Festival International de Louisiane is pleased to announce their Official Visual Artists for the 35th annual event. After a trying year like 2020, the organization felt that now is the perfect time to celebrate the unity and diversity that Festival International encompasses and shares with the world.
Rather than selecting one Official Artist for this year, like usual, Festival has brought together multiple artisans with diverse backgrounds and mediums to create a piece of commissioned artwork that is unifying and unique. The all star collaborators include Neka Mire, Jerome Ford and Luann Duhon. Festival believes that by coming together, its fans, artists and organizers can rise above these challenges to manifest something even greater than before.
With the artwork recently completed and the 2021 poster soon heading off to print, organizers are excited to share the piece with the community at the artwork reveal later this spring. At this time, they would like to introduce the impressive roster of artists that have been chosen to encompass the magic of Festival International. Their stories and crafts have led them to be part of this collaborative cultural experience, and it is a pleasure to introduce them all as the Official Visual Artists of Festival 2021.
Neka S. Mire is a Chitimacha bead artist and river cane weaver. Neka began beading as a child in 1993 at Chitimacha Tribal School and continued to expand her artistry over the years. In addition to beading and cane weaving, she designs & crochets accessories and practices finger weaving, tablet weaving, and inkle weaving.
Mire’s dedication and talent have provided her with opportunities to share the traditions of her culture with audiences near and far. She continues to learn and share the techniques of her Chitimacha ancestors and tribal members.
“I feel greatly honored to be one of the artists to work on the art for this year’s Festival International, and to work with Jerome Ford and Luann Duhon.” Neka said. “The mat that I wove for Festival International is the first mat I have ever made. The changing directions of the lines represent the way music affects each of us individually and together as music, movement, and life merge into one.”
Up next, Jerome Ford, the painter out of this special collaboration, was born and raised in New Orleans and this is reflected in his vibrant artwork. As a child growing up in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, Ford claims to have found that his most gratifying experiences involved designing and creating.
After graduating from LSU, where he studied painting, drawing, and printmaking, Ford taught in the Talented Visual Arts Program in New Orleans until 2006. Hurricane Katrina drove Jerome to relocate to his wife’s hometown of Opelousas, where he continues to teach in the Talented Program. His impact on childrens’ lives and the creative community are admirable. At night, Jerome can be found painting in his studio.
As a cultural arts organization, Festival International was drawn to Ford’s style and themes found in his work. His inspirations and ideas come from real life experiences, including his travels and learning about cultures.
“Festival International is a world-renowned entity and to be chosen to collaborate with two great artists to create this year's festival artwork is a career highlight.” explained Jerome. “Our design will incorporate symbols that exemplify unity and togetherness.”
The final artist for 2021 is no stranger to Festival International. A potter for more than 40 years, Luann Duhon has been part of the cultural event since its inception over 30 years ago. From volunteering to providing artist transportation, all the way to vending art and assisting with the production of the Marché des Arts area, Luann and her husband, Jimmie, know and love the festival from many angles. Organizers of the event are thrilled to have Luann’s talent behind the official artwork for 2021.
With nature being a common theme in her work, Luann enjoys horse hair raku and colorful mixed media fish and birds. Duhon is also a certified floral designer. She has raised her family while maintaining vital roles in local arts organizations, including a hand in establishing the Louisiana Crafts Guild.
Luann grew up near Cincinnati, Ohio, which is where she began her first apprenticeship in 1978. She came to Lafayette, Louisiana in 1981 to attend USL, where she would meet her future husband and be welcomed into his big Cajun family. Community involvement and collaboration with other artists are important components of Luann’s life, so this recent collaborative experience was a perfect fit.
In 2021, Festival International de Louisiane’s goal is to focus on the mélange of art, music, and love for people and cultures that the event brings to Lafayette, and the world. This collaborative artwork will light the way for a pivotal era and will reflect on these themes of creativity and positivity.
“We look forward to all being together again, both virtually this spring and in person in the future.” said Scott Feehan, Executive Director of Festival. “We hope you will join us in support of the celebration this spring, just like every year. Stay tuned for lots of exciting announcements, including our big 2021 artwork and music lineup reveal! Festival is taking over Lafayette this April in new ways.”