Mitoloji Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises at Capitol Park Museum, Baton Rouge

By May 14, 2024
Adrien “Adriyènn Mari” Guillory-Chatman & Emily Margaret Randall. Dolo ki répozé (Quiescent Waters). Series. Poetry in Kouri-Vini, colored pencil on paper. 2022-23. Photography by Jonathan J. Mayers and courtesy of the artist & Capitol Park Museum

Louisiana is a unique place filled with diverse cultures from various ethnic groups that are often misunderstood and misinterpreted, especially with an Americanized lens. Located at Capitol Park Museum, in Istrouma (Baton Rouge,) Louisiana, the Mitologi Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises exhibit immerses visitors in a sacred space filled with over forty cultural and linguistic artworks and stories from artists, writers, illustrators, translators, students, and scholars, many of whom are rooted in or have ties to the Gulf Coast. 

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Curator and Louisiana native, Jonathan “radbwa faroush” Mayers’ hard work and passion for Louisiana’s cultures and languages connected him to this opportunity with Capitol Park Museum. Mayers holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art with a concentration in painting and drawing from Louisiana State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in painting from the University of New Orleans. When asked how the exhibit formed, Mayers shared, “Mo t’olé wa é tendé nô langaj-yé akoté louvraj kontemporin enho miray-yé, pi ajouté kishò inik dan nô listwa litérè—min pa tou sél. Ensenm, avék padna lartis, ékrivin, é tradiktè. Konm ça, mo té konnèkté avék moun atravè bonté ê rété kiriyé. (I wanted to see and hear our heritage languages next to contemporary artwork on the wall, plus add something special to our literary history—but, not alone. Together, with fellow literary and visual artists, and translators. I connected with folks through kindness and curiosity.”)

Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Museum Division Director at Capitol Park Museum, Rodneya Hart, inquired about Mayers bringing the expanded version of Mitoloji Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises to Capitol Park Museum, Mayers agreed. In addition, the exhibit includes an introductory essay and texts by Robin White, a professor of English at Nicholls State University, and Darius A. Spieth, a professor of art history at Louisiana State University.

Upon entrance to the museum’s second floor, visitors are welcomed by a beautiful forest green backdrop with elaborate pieces that engage Louisiana’s cultures, languages, upbringings, and mythology. Kouri-Vini (Louisiana Creole), Tunica, Louisiana French, International French, and English texts can be found throughout the exhibit.

Mitoloji Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises. Photography by Jonathan J. Mayers and courtesy of Capitol Park Museum .

MO KRÉYOL“I AM CREOLE” is a powerful and heart-wrenching poem written by Alex PoeticSoul Johnson, and translated in Kouri-Vini by Clif St. Laurent. In MO KRÉYOL  Johnson explores fond memories with her Grandmother and the challenges Louisiana Creoles faced due to Americanization and bastardization.  Lines like, “Mo pa kadjin, mo kréyol (I’m not Cajun, I am Creole,)” make a profound statement about Johnson’s self-identity. MO KRÉYOL will tug at the reader’s emotions while empowering viewers to be proud of and express their heritage.

Mitologi Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises also shares a map of Louisiana in Kouri-Vini. The effort of language immersion and reclamation is heavily felt throughout the exhibit. 

Dr. Christophe Landry, LALWIZYÀN. Photography by Quinn Foster and courtesy of the artist and Capitol Park Museum.

Mayers explained why it is important to share and highlight multilingual art, “Paski no gin konnin nouzòt ka parlé nô langaj é rakonté nô listwa pattou pou donné yê lavi—minm dan léspas piblik. Montré tou ensenm donné nou léspas ki kité nou jonglé, konnèkté, é gañé nouvo nidé-yé. (Because we must know that we can speak our languages and tell our stories everywhere, even in public spaces, to give them life. Seeing everything together grants us space for reflection where we can gain new perspectives and make new connections.”)

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To include the Tunica language in Mitoloji Latannyèr, Mayers connected with visual artist, Jean-Luc Pierite, Elisabeth P. Mora, and their mother, Mrs. Donna Pierite, from the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. Mora and Mrs. Donna Pierite’s voices can be heard through artwork sharing languages in Tunica, Kouri-Vini, and Louisiana French. Mayers’ vision is to see heritage and native languages be present and prosper. 

In June of 2024, Capitol Park Museum and Chinbo, Inc. will partner for a five-day Kouri-Vini Immersion Camp. Mayers shared, “We’re also working toward publishing this latest body of work, so please be on the lookout for that in the future.” The immersion camp will center on content from the museum and exhibit.  Mitologi Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaises is filled with collaboration, community, and compassion.

Alòr vini é vizit (so come and visit). 

Mitologi Latannyèr | Mythologies Louisianaise is on view at Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge through December 2024.

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