New Orleans & Co

About New Orleans & Co

Jan Gilbert, Jana Napoli, Rontherin Ratliff

Jan Gilbert, Jana Napoli and Rontherin Ratliff are three artists who get together occasionally to create all kinds of art works. For this project, the go under the name of New Orleans & Co. They experienced the impact of Hurricane Katrina (2005) at first hand; the city of New Orleans was especially hit hard. Hurricane Katrina inspired the trio to create art works as a source of consolation, not only for themselves but for the public and other people who have suffered from this kind of natural disaster as well. Some of these art works can now be seen during Kerstvloed 1717 Art Route. They have been altered and processed to fit in with the context and the locations.

American artist Jan Gilbert creates socially committed art works on distressing social themes such as illness, war, disasters and death. Her work may be in the shape of a book, a unit, a performance or a combination of the three. It is exhibited in museums and galleries and in public places such as bus shelters, hotel lobbies, shop windows and walls of houses. In these projects she cooperates closely with other artists like her partner Kevin McCaffrey, Rontherin Ratliff and Jana Napoli, and she also collaborates with scientists, students and the community. She witnessed the havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. She believes in the healing and ritual power of art and created works such as Biography of a House (2007), a ribbon of embalmed family photos wrapped around her family home which was flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina. She blends personal and collective, public and private, local and global, which gives her art works and projects a universal connotation.

Jana Napoli / New Orleans (USA)

Jana Napoli is a true personality. Since 2005, she has been organising large-scale social projects that have received worldwide follow-up. Important elements in Naples work are personal contact, meeting and sharing experiences. Her YaYa foundation (Young Aspirations | Young Artists) gives creative young people the opportunity to develop into successful adults. Rontherin Ratliff was one of these young artists. Naples exhibits both in the US and abroad and has received many awards for her work, including the Oprah Winfrey Use Your Life Award (2002) and the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities Award (1999). Jana Napoli was born in New Orleans, grew up there and still lives and works in this city.


Rontherin Ratliff (1977) / New Orleans (USA)

In 2009, Rontherin Ratliff led the artistic direction and co-creation of the set installation for the Works and Process production of Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim.  In 2010, with support from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the Contemporary Arts Center he was commissioned to create Sounds of a Crescent City, a large-scale sculpture for New Orleans Habitat For Humanity’s Musicians’ Village.  That same year, he was invited to exhibit Things That Float at Diverse Works in Texas for the exhibition “Understanding Water”.  Things That Float would later be included in other exhibitions, including “Vestiges/Trinitas” at Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery in South Carolina, “Tank Drama” at The Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans, and “KATRINA THEN AND NOW: ARTISTS AS WITNESS PART II: The Rebirth of Art at Iris and B, Gerald Cantor Art Gallery in Massachusetts.  In 2012, he was awarded a Percent For Arts grant by the Arts Council of New Orleans to create Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, a site-specific public art sculpture at The New Orleans Mayer Branch Library.  In the course of this year, he was also selected to exhibit Revolve, a large-scale sculptural installation at the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans.  Revolve would later be featured in the exhibition “Art for Rights” sponsored by Amnesty International in New Orleans.  In 2014, he was invited to participate in the 7th Annual Gov Island Art Fair to install Mud Room, a site-specific installation in NY.  He was also a 2014 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Center Artist-In-Residence Program in New Orleans, which led to his series, Counterbalance.  Work from this series was on exhibition in “Convergence” at the Joan Mitchell Center Studios in New Orleans and later on view at the exhibition “Reverb” at the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans.  Also in 2014, he was selected as one of the collaborating artists for the nationally acclaimed street art installation ExhibitBe, in New Orleans, where he created the site-specific installations Hanging In the Balance and Storm Clouds.  In 2015, the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator and NPN/VAN awarded him with an artist residency in Miami, FL.  While in residency, he started on his series, Can’t Call Home.  Upon returning to New Orleans, he was invited to show pieces from Can’t Call Home in the exhibition “Expanded Media” at Tulane University’s Carroll Gallery in New Orleans.  Most recently, he co-founded Level Artist Collective with Ana Hernandez, Horton Humble, John Isiah Walton and Carl Joe Williams.  It is the result of an organic formation of painters, sculptors and writers whose different degrees of relations extend a multitude of connections.  Through cohesion and the merging of creative resources, the objective of Level Artist Collective is to cultivate a platform that promotes, supports and sustains their collective voice and vision.  Currently, Rontherin Ratliff is working on a the series titled Engrossed.


About the art works

Jan Gilbert (with collaborator Debra Howell and 50+ participants)

Vestiges/trinitas 2011-2017
Domies Toen (in the summerhouse in the garden), Hoofdstraat 76, Pieterburen and in Antiquariaat Bij tij en ontij, Hoofdstraat 26, Kloosterburen

VESTIGES/trinitas is an art collaboration that aims to be both a repository and a place for research into our collective memory and identity bringing together New Orleans artists displaced by

the 2005 Katrina flood with members of the Netherlands community in a wetlands-inspired installation.

VESTIGES/trinitas is about coming to terms with what's BEEN and, further, what MAY BE lost, on both a personal and global scale, possibly forever - simultaneously marking the 300th anniversary of the 1717 Christmas Flood in the Netherlands and the 12th Anniversary of the Katrina floods.

Biography of a House 2007-2017
Domies Toen (in the tea room), Hoofdstraat 76, Pieterburen

The Biography of A House suggests the elevation line of the flood of 1717 in solidarity with those who suffered in the Netherlands in the same manner that the people of New Orleans suffered their own flood and destruction three centuries later. The actual ribbon (approximately 28 centimeters high and as long as 90 meters) consists of embalmed family photos, which in its original iteration encircled her girlhood/mother’s flooded post-Katrina home as pictured in the artwork, which now mutates and travels. 

Jana Napoli

Domies Toen, Hoofdstraat 76, Pieterburen


DrawerSpeaks, a program which traveled across the US and Europe and engaged and inspired young people to express their ideas through art, joined the Floodwall installation and has survived it.   The 4 tons of the Floodwall installation was made into a pyre and burned with its 700 dresser drawers in 2011. 

Highlights of the Floodwall art installation and the DrawerSpeaks program are available for viewing in a short video at the visitors center.

Rontherin Ratliff

Dwelling Afloat 2017
Domies Toen, Hoofdstraat 76, Pieterburen

With Dwelling Afloat, Rontherin Ratliff re-imagines his experience with the grieving of a personal loss during the New Orleans flood, that resulted from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.  Dwelling Afloat exists as a sculptural depiction of Ratliff's realization of the magnitude of debilitating loss, while standing waist high in his grandmother's living room, amid the Hurricane Katrina flood waters.  Through the use of found objects that are associated with domestic living, he has materialized structures that take the shape of houses and bring to mind our layered understanding of home.

About the location

Domies Toen (Domies Garden) is a green treasure with a rich past, right in the heart of Pieterburen. Until 1961 the garden at the Petrus church was the ornamental and utility vicar’s garden. Springflowers like holewort and beautiful plants of all sorts, like Venus’ comb and field scabious grow on the foundations of the now gone parsonage. In spring, a wealth of pebble plants grow in the typical Groninger ‘slingertuin’ (looping garden) with two mirrored ponds and monumental trees. Make sure you find the charming gazebo dating from 1710, in which the vicar used to write his sermons. The religious school building, built in 1888, now houses a tea room, with a sunny terrace behind the old ‘dobbe’, a catlle drinking trench since the 13th century.

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