Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges: New Photo Exhibition by L. Kasimu Harris Now Open
LAFAYETTE, La (press release) – What happens to a culture when it is displaced? That’s the question photographer L. Kasimu Harris asks in his new photography exhibition, Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges, opening Friday, Feb. 11 at the Hilliard Art Museum, which documents black-owned bars and lounges in New Orleans’ 7th Ward and their role in the community in the face of displacement via gentrification and development. The show runs through July 30.
Museum staff collaborated with Harris to create an experiential exhibit. Photographs are displayed episodically, separated by individual bars, creating a rhythmic effect further enhanced by dark shadows, saturated warm colors and a black bar installation as imagined by Harris.
“L. Kasimu Harris is creating his best work right now,” explains Ben Hickey, curator of exhibitions at The Hilliard Art Museum. “Quite simply, his work is excellent. We worked directly with him to create an enriching experience beyond the photography itself, including a learning lab called Honey Bear’s Hotspot Bar & Lounge that provides important historical and sociological context.”
The exhibition also includes unique interpretive artworks on loan from New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and The Historic New Orleans Collection that contextualize Kasimu’s place in art history by showcasing the work of those who influenced him.
“The museum strives to present exhibitions that feature the art of our time with relevance for our campus and community,” states director LouAnne Greenwald, noting that Harris was recently named Documentary Photographer of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Hilliard will also offer a gallery talk with the artist on April 20 at 6 p.m. to further the conversation about cultural displacement as well as the role of photography in documenting culture.
“I’m eager that a show like this can create positive and nuanced discussions about development’s impact in Louisiana and the net impact on marginalized communities,” adds Hickey.
L. Kasimu Harris: Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges
Exhibition Dates: Feb. 11 – July 30, 2022
For several generations, the black-owned bars and lounges on St. Bernard Avenue in New Orleans’s 7th Ward were mainstays of the community. They were safe spaces for refreshment in an otherwise hostile world that allowed for the development of a strong community and many beloved forms of cultural expression. Now, as those lounges struggle to stay open and many become white-owned, it is unclear what will happen to the neighborhood. The photographer L. Kasimu Harris is documenting these bars and lounges before it is too late and asking the question, “What happens to the culture when it is displaced?”