From more than ten hours of raw footage captured during the making of the ArtShops project comes ArtShops: A New Orleans Sculpture Project, Made Possible by the Joan Mitchell Foundation.
This short film documents interviews and interactions with the collaborating students and artists as they designed, planned, and made artworks. The film features images of the completed sculptures and includes a recent interview with Merit Shalett, CAC Senior Associate Director, who was involved in the project from its conception.
Launched in 2007 by the CAC, with support from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, during a period of citywide post-Katrina rebuilding and healing, the ArtShops Sculpture Project brought together local, professional visual artists with New Orleans student groups and community partners to create and install temporary outdoor sculptural works across the city, on school or public city properties.
Early on in the design and installation process, it became clear that the artists and students were seeking more permanent art works. Yet, without the proper funding and capacity to reinforce the structures for longer term permanency, the project was unable to be completed during the initial post-Katrina years.
When the ArtShops project was revitalized through supplemental funding from the Joan Mitchell Foundation in December 2012, the CAC began its work to contact partnering schools and artists involved with the various projects.
For the students and artists who participated in ArtShops during the years following the disaster, the project's most profound impact was the actual making of the artworks—the process created a strong sense of community. It was with that sense in mind that the project continued, until it was just recently completed. These sculptures are a standing testament to the spirit of collaboration and unity in New Orleans, which has become most evident in the years following the storm.
The project became a vehicle to foster healing. As expressed by participants, the 'artistic' aspect of the project provided an outlet for dealing with their own struggles and fears associated with the disaster, while the 'collaboration' aspect increased their sense of community and security at a time when many New Orleanians were struggling with issues of displacement, loss, and rebuilding.