Nick Cave's "As Is" continues to reverberate with Shreveport community.

Weaving a Trail

An UNcommon Tale of Acceptance

The Beaded Blanket Trail
January 20, 2018
www.artspaceshreveport.com

A Blanket Trail of twenty quilts woven together in bands of color with beads, bangles, and a burnishing message of hope: A Ladder with pieces of bamboo entwined amidst strand after strand of purple, blue, and yellow pony beads tells a story of climbing up out of homelessness and despair. Chaos of Addiction—a portrait of inescapable beaded webs woven into a maze of entrapment and addiction. Okra, with raucously splendid Mardi Gras strands threaded together with earthen-colored beads, as a metaphor for the tough outer skin covering the delicate fragility of one living with HIV/AIDS. These are three of the twenty artistically framed Nick Cave–style blankets that will debut on the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) Blanket Trail, January 20, 2018.

A trolley tour of twenty locations scattered throughout the nine-block revitalized neighborhood of Shreveport Common, where the vibrant works of blanket art will be permanently displayed, kicks off the Blanket Trail. Stops along the tour include the historic Municipal Auditorium where Nick Cave premiered his first live performance, As Is; the Volunteers of America LightHouse; Volunteers of America McAdoo; Providence House and Mercy Center where residents worked on the blankets; and ArtStation, home of SRAC. There will be a chance to meet resident artists Heather Beauvais, Jerry Davenport, Karen La Beau, Sherry Tamburo, and Kathryn Usher, who designed the blankets, and some of the social service agency residents whose stories were the motivation for the blankets. Visitors making their way along the Trail on January 20 will also hear the stories of the making of the blankets told by local spoken-word artists.

Artist Nick Cave works on beaded blanket with young community members.

A highlight of the evening will be special performances by three Northwest Louisiana artists whom Cave featured in his first-ever theatrical production, As Is, while serving as resident artist with SRAC, and whom he went on to debut in his show Until at MassMOCA. Diva Brenda Wimberly and accompanist Sereca Henderson will perform “I’m Changed” from As Is for the opening of Blanket Trail and a piece from Until. Spoken-word artist PoeticX will perform the piece he wrote that captivated the As Is audience in Shreveport, “Who Knows If Tomorrow Will Ever Come,” and a piece from MassMOCA’s Until.

The Blanket Trail will also become an important part of The Shreveport Common mobile app. The app helps guide visitors along the Trail; it is also a valuable resource for touring this vibrant and historic cultural district on the western edge of downtown Shreveport.

The twenty framed blankets that make up the Blanket Trail are designed to make you ponder, to make you change, and to leave you with a feeling of “what’s next?” These are “covers” into which the burdens of fear, poverty, pain, homelessness, disease, and discrimination are painstakingly untangled, varied cultures and creative spirits are brilliantly knit together, and a trail of hope is thoughtfully woven. They are framed and in some cases designed by local artists Bruce Allen, Martha Bills, Julie Glass, Jim Hayes, James Marks, Tama Nathan, Maria Schmelz, Sherry Tamburo, Megan Davis Taylor, James Thomas, and Kathryn Usher. The stories of the blankets are written and performed by these artists, as well as Robert Streeter. Angelique Feaster Evans will theatrically present the stories, which will be heard through the Shreveport Common app. Twenty blankets that tell the story of how Soundsuit artist Nick Cave came to Shreveport as a change agent to bring artists, social service agency residents, and the community together to help us learn to accept each other As Is.

On the same night of January 20, when the Blanket Trail opens, another exciting exhibition, On the Wall, debuts in artspace in downtown Shreveport. On the Wall is a collaboration of artists who will work non-stop from January 14–18 to create a grand-scale piece of art using the wall of MainSpace in artspace as the canvas. The art form can include paint, chalk, spray paint, multimedia, and environmental ephemera. The public will be invited to watch the work in progress beginning January 16. On the Wall will be on exhibit until February 17, 2018.

The Beaded Blanket Trail opens as a permanent installation of framed public art projects in prominent locations throughout the nine-block Shreveport Common revitalized neighborhood beginning January 20. The Shreveport Common app can be downloaded to hear the stories of the blankets and for specific sites and directions to visit the various framed blanket locations. For more information, visit www.shreveportcommon.com or www.artspaceshreveport.com.

 

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