Big Chief Funeral, Signed (22 1/2″ x 30″)
Silkscreen edition of 250
Built in the 1800’s, this painting portrays a jazz funeral (note the dark suits and hats on the band members) of a Mardi Gras Indian, “the Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias,” held at the first African-American Church, one of the first inter-racial churches in the country.
Popular amongst the locals, the Mardi Gras INdians parade along Claiborne Avenue during the carnival season. Off season, one can catch them practicing their tribal dances and chants in neighborhoods, such as, Treme.
Renowned for their ornate and detailed handiwork, it is common for a Mardi Gras Indian to work an entire year on one costume. This painting displays the fanciwork as seen on their vest and aprons. In many cases, ostrich feathers are added to enhance the costume.
The U.S. flag and soldiers are significant because The Big Chief of Magnolia Indians was a veterans of the U.S. army.
In New Orleans, the passage of life is celebrated and one way of steppin’ out is via jazz funeral. As pictured, the family is escorted away as the jazz band strikes up a number and even those who don’t know the deceased gather to second-line. That’s N’awlins.