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Prospect.1 New Orleans Shows Public Art as a Form of Civic Engagement
The project started when artist Wangechi Mutu was introduced to Ms. Sarah Lastie whose home had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
NEW ORLEANS, LA.- The historic Holy Cross community of New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward can add to its ranks another completed home. Miss Sarah’s House, which was rebuilt thanks to artist Wangechi Mutu’s efforts as part of the biennial of international art Prospect.1, was dedicated in presence of the artist, Ms. Sarah Lastie, Dan Cameron of Prospect New Orleans, and Tye Waller of the New Orleans Women Artists Collective (NOWAC), which was instrumental in the project. A spoken word performance by Asali DeVan and a live musical performance by Rajdulari & TruVibe celebrated the completion of the project. Miss Sarah’s House stands at 606 Caffin Street, on the corner of Chartres Street, in the Holy Cross District of the Lower 9th Ward.

The project started when artist Wangechi Mutu was introduced to Ms. Sarah Lastie whose home had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and who had subsequently been swindled out of her settlement money by an unskilled contractor. As part of her project for Prospect.1, Mutu decided to create a ghost structure using timber and lights where the house once stood and started selling limited-edition prints inspired by the project, which were to finance the reconstruction of the house. The print was entitled “Homeward Bound”.

According to Mutu, “Miss Sarah’s House was a site-sensitive work built as a tribute and as a place of pilgrimage not only for Prospect.1 visitors, but especially for the people of the Lower 9th Ward who were struck twice in one week: first by the storm and secondly by the blow from the government’s catastrophic negligence.”

Construction by local builder Dalbert Poree’, General Repairs & Renovations began in November of 2008. The project was co-managed by Mutu and Tye Waller, co-founders of NOWAC. Students from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) in Boston volunteered to paint Ms Sarah’s House.

According to Dan Cameron, producer of Prospect.1, Miss Sarah’s House will be included in Prospect.2, to remind us of the importance of public art as a form of civic engagement. Ms. Sarah’s house will soon become a home, thanks to the generous support of Wangechi Mutu.

New Orleans | Prospect.1 | Dan Cameron | Wangechi Mutu | Ms. Sarah Lastie |

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