History and Mission
About Prospect New Orleans
Prospect New Orleans is a citywide contemporary art triennial. Emphasizing collaborative partnerships and site-specificity, Prospect presents artwork by local, national, and international artists in both traditional and highly unexpected environments. The experience of Prospect invites residents and visitors to celebrate art and artists as intrinsic to the local landscape and to engage New Orleans as they never have before. Its next iteration -- P.5 -- will open in 2020.
The idea to mount a large-scale international art biennial in New Orleans came to Dan Cameron, an internationally-recognized contemporary art curator, during his first post-Katrina visit to New Orleans. An annual visitor to Jazz Fest and acknowledged “Nolaphile”, in early-2006 Cameron was invited to New Orleans by friends in the art community to attend a public meeting about the role of art and artists in the rebuilding of the city. As a veteran curator of international biennials in Taipei and Istanbul, Cameron had witnessed first-hand the social and financial benefits that biennial exhibitions yield for their host cities, and was keenly aware of the fact that the U.S. does not have an international contemporary art biennial on the scale of major cities in Europe, Asia, and South America. Given the potential benefits and opportunities, Cameron decided that post-Katrina New Orleans was an ideal time and place to launch such a venture and in 2007, with seed money from the philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis, Prospect New Orleans was born.
In the tradition of the great international exhibitions, Prospect New Orleans invites leading contemporary artists from around the globe to exhibit at venues that include major cultural institutions, as well as non-arts venues, and public spaces. In addition to its impact on cultural tourism and the fact that people travel to and spend money in New Orleans to see Prospect, its larger impact has been the way that artists have embraced the social mission of the biennial, and created projects that resonate deeply with the City’s unique history, culture, people, and institutions, making a lasting impression on audiences both local and throughout the world. At the heart of Prospect is the connection that it enables between “high art” and the larger cultural landscape of the city, with its rich and diverse vernacular traditions of music, Mardi Gras Indians, second line parades, and other popular cultural forms. Prospect introduces audiences to the richness of New Orleans culture as seen through the eyes of artists.
Prospect.4 New Orleans
Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp
The fourth iteration of Prospect New Orleans’ international art exhibition, Prospect.4 (P.4), opened to the public on Saturday, November 18th, 2017 and ran through February 25th, 2018 aligning with the City of New Orleans’s Tricentennial celebration.
Prospect.4 Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University selected 73 local, national, and international, artists that presented their work throughout the city for P.4. Prospect.4 continued the organization’s tradition of showcasing the work of artists from around the globe. Taking into consideration the 300th anniversary of New Orleans’s founding and the city’s strategic location on the Gulf of Mexico, P.4 directed its focus southward, placing greater emphasis on art and artists that engage the Global South, specifically from North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the European powers that colonized this region.
Prospect.3: Notes for Now, ran from October 25, 2014 through January 25, 2015 showcasing 58 local, national, and international artists at 18 venues citywide: it included over 300 artworks spread around the city. Prospect.3 offered related art education and community programs, most of which were free and open to the public, and also broke all-time attendance records inviting an audience of more than 100,000 local, national, and international visitors. Prospect.2 ran from October 22, 2011 through January 29, 2012 at 15 venues throughout the city and featured 27 local, national, and international artists. Prospect.2’s attendance was 72,000.
Prospect.1.5, an interim-year program focused on artists from or working in New Orleans, was organized in collaboration with public art centers and museums, schools, alternative spaces, and commercial galleries in New Orleans. It took place from November 6, 2010 to February 19, 2011, included more than 50 artists, and garnered an attendance of 29,000.
Prospect.1 was the organization’s inaugural exhibition that took place November 1, 2008 to January 18, 2009, and featured 81 artists exhibiting at 24 venues throughout the city. More than 3,000 students visited Prospect.1 to attend educational programs, and the exhibition had an attendance of about 88,000 visitors, roughly 22,000 from out of town.