This summer the New Orleans Museum of Art will celebrate the third installment of its Great Hall exhibition series with a solo show by renowned video, performance, and collage artist Rashaad Newsome (born 1979). His first solo exhibition in Louisiana, Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms explores the artist’s interest in ornament, systems of heraldry, and Baroque grandeur.
A New Orleans native and graduate of Tulane University, Newsome rose to prominence in New York during the last decade due to the critical success of his video and performance art pieces. Featured in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, P.S.1’s “Greater New York” exhibition. Newsome’s artworks incorporate aspects of “vogueing” (a dance form which came out of New York’s gay ballroom scene in the 1960s and 1970s), and the music sampling and showmanship associated with hip-hop and rap music. Newsome has exhibited his work in museums throughout the United States and internationally, recently completing projects in 2012 for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Feast Projects during the Hong Kong International Art fair. He had a solo exhibition in 2011 at the Wadsworth Athenaeum, and has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Drawing Center in New York in spring 2014. NOMA is presenting the second solo museum exhibition in his career.
Newsome’s King of Arms project presents the third installment of his “Heraldry” series, inspired by Western European coats of arms. Taking historic heraldic imagery as his inspiration, Newsome fuses signs of royalty and nobility with elements of hip-hop culture in his videos and collages. For example, his elaborate framed collage Duke of NOLA features a central armorial shield that is topped at the crest with an image of hip-hop musician (and fellow New Orleans native) Juvenile. Newsome has created two previous video and performance projects related to this series: Pursuivant and Herald. The videos demonstrate a progression of accumulating titles and arms. In each installment Newsome is bestowed a higher “level” of power: for example, “pursuivant” indicating a junior officer of arms, and “herald” indicating an officer of arms according to English custom. “King of Arms” indicates a senior rank, and signifies the culmination of Newsome’s quest.
The King of Arms exhibition will include over a dozen of the artist’s large-scale collages, many of which will be public view for the first time. In addition to the installation in NOMA’s Great Hall, the exhibition will include a special presentation of Newsome’s Herald, 2011 in NOMA’s second floor gallery of French paintings. This video presentation, shown in an ornate gilded frame, will be installed amidst NOMA’s historic portraits of French royalty, including Elisabeth-Louise Vigeé-Lebrun’s portrait of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Newsome will begin work on a new video production also titled King of Arms. The video will capture a performance by Newsome, featuring a coronation ceremony and a “second line” of dancers, revelers, and New Orleans high school musicians, who have been inducted as members of Newsome’s newly formed Mardi Gras-inspired “King of Arms” krewe. Shot in City Park and at NOMA, this event will be professionally filmed and made into a future video artwork.
The public will have the opportunity to view an exclusive preview of the King of Arms video piece created during this performance during a screening at NOMA on September 13, 2013.