Mitoloji Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises Exhibition Curated by LSU Art Alum Mayers

The Mitoloji Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises exhibition, on view at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge October 2023 – December 2024, was curated by LSU School of Art alum Jonathan Mayers (BFA 2007). Art history professor Darius Spieth wrote accompanying texts for the exhibition, and works by Kelli Scott Kelley, professor of art/painting, and student Henry Johnson (BFA in Studio Art/Painting & Drawing) are exhibited.

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and Capitol Park Museum are pleased to announce the exhibition Mitoloji Latannyèr/Mythologies Louisianaises, which explores the French, Creole, and Tunica languages of Louisiana through art and storytelling. The Capitol Park Museum exhibition features more than forty paintings, images, sculptures, and stories, with accompanying texts in Louisiana and International French, Kouri-Vini (Louisiana Creole), and English, plus a special tale in Tunica, according to Louisiana State Museums.

According to Dr. Nathan Rabalais, a professor of French and francophone studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the exhibition demonstrates “both the constant evolution and the longevity of Louisiana’s culture.”  

Guest curator Mayers collaborated with artists and writers who have been distanced from their cultures “as a result of Americanization or physical location as well as others who have embraced the cultures of the region. Drawing on themes that include environmental devastation and social justice, they have created artwork and stories told through Louisiana’s heritage languages.” As the exhibition’s creative partners “réklamé mañè-layé péyisaj maré yê ensemb” (reclaim the ways in which the landscape binds them), they invite visitors to engage in this homage to the state’s language, identity, and folklore. 

Artists featured in the exhibition include LSU alumni: Simon Alleman (BFA 2007), Evan Gomez (BFA 2008) Nyssa Juneau (BFA 2008), Randi Willett (MFA 2016), Douglas Bourgeois (BFA 2016), the late Charles Barbier, Demond Matsuo, and Elise Toups. Rodneyna Hart (BFA 2008) is Museum Division Director.

The exhibition is accompanied by texts by Robin White, professor of English at Nicholls State University, and Spieth, professor of art history at LSU, who also contributed the preface and the introductory essay, respectively, to the catalogue accompanying Mitoloji Latannyèr. An extensive array of educational programs scheduled throughout the run of the exhibition will focus on Louisiana’s heritage languages.

“Louisiana French and Kouri-Vini are vital components of our culture,” says Lieutenant Governor Nungesser. “It’s important to keep them alive for future generations.”

Jonathan “radbwa faroush” Mayers was born and raised in Istrouma (Baton Rouge), Louisiana, and earned a BFA from Louisiana State University and an MFA from the University of New Orleans. The former Baton Rouge Poet Laureate (2021-2023) is also a visual artist, independent curator, educator, and cultural activist who uses Kouri-Vini, the endangered Creole language of Louisiana, in both his writing and daily life. He paints images of mythological beasts and monsters in familiar landscapes and comments on social, environmental, and cultural happenings in the region. He is represented by the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans. Mayers is also the founding president of Chinbo, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to the reclamation of Kouri-Vini, which provides educational materials in the language to the Louisiana community and its diaspora.

Hear Mayers pronounce the title of this exhibition in both Kouri-Vini and French: