STEPS HOME by Dawn DeDeaux at Ballroom Marfa

Installation View: Dawn DEDEAUX: The Space Between Worlds, New Orleans Museum of Art

PROSPECT New Orleans appoints artist Dawn DeDeaux and Curator Arthur Lewis to the Board

Artur Lewis (left) and Dawn DeDeaux



EXCERPT:   “New Orleans based-artist Dawn DeDeaux suggest that the expected source of the ‘trouble’ is itself troubled, yet manifests its own tragic nobility. The focus of her darkly dramatic Soul Shadows: Urban Warrior Myths is the young African-American male. She populates the corridors of her catacomb-like - or jail-like - installa- tion with gilded, over life-size photographs of black youths, former or current gang-bangers and/or prisoners who here assume the styl- ized attitudes of ancient deities and modern ‘stars’. Ensconced in certain cul-de-sacs are other beautiful and menacing icons of the vio- lent life these doomed adolescents have led; and, behind false cell doors, various videos document that life. The media-intensive, ‘Sensurround’ Installation bombards the visitor with Impression and Information, all designed to de-heroicize urban warfare, including the prison lire visited (often unjustly) on survivors, and to re-validate the warriors/victims. DeDeaux's anti-funhouse Soul Shadows may be heavy going, but it is not blame-slinging “PC” agitprop: It conveys not anger, but empathy, engagement and hope.”

VOGUE Top TEN Summer Shows by Dodie Kazanjian



EXCERPT: “The will focus on Toole’s inspirations for the book: the medieval Philosopher Boethius and the Goddess Fortuna, a gal frequently summoned throughout the pages of Dunces as the counsel to Ignatius,” explains DeDeaux.
​“Project Fortuna’s scope is considerable and began for me decades ago in the home of Toole’s mother, Thelma Toole, prior to the book’s publication,” DeDeaux says. “Then in 1991 I served as production designer for the first ever stage adaptation of Confederacy for which I produced dozens of drawings and character studies; these, and the deep appreciation I acquired for both Boethius and Toole, provide the foundation for this installation.”
​“Another deciding factor to produce this particular interpretation of the work is our world’s current relationship to nature and fate in a turbulent time of hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and oil spills (not to mention terrorist attacks),” DeDeaux adds. “In this regard, the work has a very serious side in its embrace of disasters and resurrections. There is also something about wanting to know our future that strikes humbly into the heart of ‘humanness.’”
Striking into the heart of humanness, The Goddess Fortuna project is an absolute feast of the senses for Prospect 2 attendees, and fans of all things Ignatius.


Guardians. And yet. The fascination with outer space colonization, in the time of human-driven climate change, political upheaval, and a widespread health crisis, recently brought DeDeaux back to the photographic origins of Space Clowns. What initially seemed like mere source images for the baroque Space Clowns collages now appear as harbingers of a new kind of breath regulation. These first responder portraits, which DeDeaux initially shot using Rauschenberg’s own 8-by-10 camera in Captiva, she terms Guardians. The images present an eerie foreshadowing of the protections necessary to survive in the ongoing age of deadly airborne viruses. From mustard gas to nuclear radiation, from oil spills to gas leaks, from influenza (fowl or swine origin) to coronavirus (bat origin), humans have created countless situations in which air has been made toxic and unbreathable due to alterations to ecologies and encroachments on and the destruction of wildlife habitats. In Fallout (2013), one of DeDeaux’s photographs from Guardians, a man in a neon-green cloaked hazmat suit with a clear visor gazes above the viewer’s line of sight. Photographed at an extreme horizontal angle from a perspective beneath his chin, he appears reclined, and his fixed stare lends him a preternatural stillness that is almost corpse-like. Wearing a ventilator beneath his face shield, he assumes an uncanny, cyborgian quality. As he looks upward, the blur of palms and other plants around him gives the impression that he is moving in space, plunging backward in a vertiginous fall. The isolation of his stuffy, fogged-up suit keeps him from the surrounding jungle of vegetation, a habitat on Earth that humans once traversed naturally, effortlessly, without fear of whatever hazardous condition from which he is insulated. In the Guardians series, DeDeaux is reassessing the ways in which our current moment has returned to consciousness the insecurity of ever being fully protected against often invisible threats like warming oceans and disease, or of being prepared for the unpredictable effects of the depletion of life-sustaining resources on Mothership Earth. As she states, “During the [coronavirus] quarantine I have come to value equally my straightforward photography of responders. The decorative aspects of the [Space Clowns] work went extreme future tense, imagining us already exiled from the planet, when the curvilinear lines of flora and fauna superseded the straight lines of flags in terms of conveying our place of origin, Earth, as we drifted further and further away, looking for its closest replica. It is the natural world of earth and rain, the fresh water, that shaped the aesthetic of our planet and perhaps our future wardrobe signifiers. . . . [Yet] the original portrait photos offer a greater punch of evidence for our NOW. This time of alienation is REAL, and the unadorned photo seems more poignant.”


EXCERPT / "The moment the sky turns dark is transformative. In the Brulatour Courtyard, it’s the time when Dawn DeDeaux’s perverted portrait of Ignatius Reilly comes to life, converting the romanticism of the historic courtyard into the dark imaginings of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces... DeDeaux, known for her pioneering use of digital media, further tricks out the experience, manipulating projections and reflections to give the illusion of a hypnotizing Fortuna performing at the foot of Reilly’s bed, taunting onlookers. Her voyeuristic investigation into the fetishism and confusion of Toole’s novel utilizes seemingly every space in the courtyard to provide a one-of-a-kind sensory experience, extracting viewers’ own latent sexuality and fear, and heightening them to haunting effect."  READ MORE

Image: CB Radio Booth Installation by Dawn DeDeaux, 1976


By Lauren Scarpello 
EXCERPT:  If  there is one touchstone of DeDeaux’s varied practice—a way of potentially determining the efficacy of her work even today—it is participation, a concern that can be traced to her earliest works. In 1975, DeDeaux conceived the project CB Radio Booths as an intersection of her interests in mass communication and her desire to break down self-imposed barriers of prejudice. At the forefront of engaging audiences outside the constructs of the art establishment, the result was nine functioning stainless steel radio booths stationed across southern Louisiana. Anyone could pick up the receiver and start talking—and folks did. The Federal Communications Commission granted DeDeaux a special channel and, with headquarters located at the top of One Shell Square, a purely egalitarian means of communication was born—the original “chat room.” 

At the time she was creating her CB Radio Booths the art world was still reeling from Fluxus and its subsequent movements. DeDeaux was walking amongst giants such as Nam June Paik, who also prophesied the era of mass communication and the far-reaching influence of information technologies. Theorists questioned the idea of originality and warned of the dissolution of reality...

DeDeaux continued to act as a selector in this brave new world, taking moments from life, stripping them down to their basic elements, and forcing us, the viewers, to pay attention to what we normally would not…"  READ MORE

StillFrame / Drive By Shooting Video by Dawn DeDeaux

Goddess Fortuna Installation / Dawn DeDeaux / Photo by Michael Smith

Dawn DeDeaux's MotherShip feature, American Theatre Magazine
Dawn DeDeaux Brooklyn Rail New Orleans Museum Retrospective Artist New Orleans

AFTERIMAGE: Glocal History / Prospect 2 New Orleans

by Kathryn Kramer

"The local narrative undercurrent that marked Prospect.2 was well served by the nature of its time-based media. New Orleanian Dawn DeDeaux’s multimedia installation “Goddess Fortuna and Her Dunces in an Effort to Make Sense of It All” (2011) filled the Brulatour Courtyard in the French Quarter. Upon entering the courtyard, the visitor immediately became a participant in a strange Confederate imaginary of 1960s New Orleans – part Inquisitorial persecution; part Klan ritualism; part Carnivale’ and part masturbatory fantasy of Ignatius J. Reilly, the protagonist of John Kennedy Toole’s New Orleans novel A Confederacy of Dunces (2011 is the thirtieth anniversary of the novel’s Pulitzer Prize). The installation’s particular focus was on Reilly’s obsession with the wrongs done to him by the Goddess Fortuna, who was projected in video loops throughout, most notable as an orbed specter (a manipulated window reflection) hovering above Reilly’s bed in the middle of the courtyard. Fortuna is played by a New Orleans sissy-bounce artist rotating to hypnotic bounce music in Rococo finery, twirling batons, gyrating buttocks, and otherwise spinning the wheel of fate. “Where it lands,” stated a wall text, “a hurricane, an oil spill or a tsunami – nobody knows for sure?” This fatalistic statement was the only reference to recent events, but “Goddess Fortuna” provided a prehistory that addressed the narrative need for both New Orleans natives and non- natives alike to gain insight into how things/people/places were before. No description of DeDeaux’s piece can do it justice: it requires presence and all of the senses."  READ MORE​​

Dawn DeDeaux Pelican Bomb Review Goddess Fortuna
The Goddess Fortuna Installtions
Dawn DeDeaux, FALLOUT: Green First Responder in Headlights with Palms, 2013

Dawn DeDeaux Connects Social Justice and Environmentalism in a Retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art
On view at NOMA, Dawn DeDeaux: The Space Between Worlds demonstrates the artist’s longstanding concern with the most pressing issues of our time.

In Dawn DeDeaux: The Space Between Worlds, the retrospective currently on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), works from across five decades show the artist’s longstanding concern with our society’s most pressing issues, including social justice and environmental concerns. On view through January 23, 2022, The Space Between Worlds gestures toward an uncertain future imperiled by runaway population growth, breakneck industrial development, and the imminent threat of climate change.

Since the 1970s, DeDeaux has used video, performance, photography, sculpture, and installation to create art that grapples with the social, political, and environmental impacts of this era we now refer to as the Anthropocene — one permanently scarred by human activity and ambition. In the exhibition catalogue, which will be available in spring 2022, journalist and scholar Walter Isaacson notes, “Dawn’s exhibition at NOMA presents a visual rumination on mankind’s past and future and our increasingly fragile existence on earth … Dawn’s works prompt us to think about our tenuous grasp on the Earth and what would be lost if Earth were to become uninhabitable or destroyed.”

DeDeaux responds directly to the unique threats facing her home state of Louisiana, one of the fastest disappearing landmasses in the world. The Space Between Worlds is organized around a series of immersive installations that span DeDeaux’s entire career thus far. Highlights include early projects like CB Radio Booths, which linked communities across New Orleans via radio and satellite, and more recent works from her MotherShip series, which plots our escape from a ruined Earth. In response to The Space Between Worlds, author and catalogue contributor John M. Barry writes, “A ‘retrospective’ is by definition a look backward, but in the case of Dawn DeDeaux’s work, that definition doesn’t seem to fit … so much of what she’s done seems of the now. It’s beyond prescient.”​


"Dawn DeDeaux is a native New Orleans conceptual artist (her work has been shown at the Whitney and other major museums) who's also part academic, anthropologist and reporter.  When the FBI served a warrant on her studio this past October, she made sure a local newspaper man and TV crew were present she wanted it known that she gave up her archives unwillingly. [Correction Update: DeDeaux did not notify the press.  The press was present due to news agencies’ access to police radio dispatches.]  

The feds boxed up photos, paintings and copies of two video works The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and Drive-by Shooting.  She hooked up with the Hardy Boys after realizing that they were virtual heroes - “Urban Warriors” as she termed them in a major exhibition at New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center - to the juvenile offenders she was working with in a prison media arts programme.

In one of the Hardy Boys videos, Wayne opined, "Somebody's going to see what you do no matter what you do.  You might say, ‘Well I'm gonna drive by, I'm gonna cut the lights off, and I'm gonna spray the people and keep going.’ But somebody's gonna recognize you or your car! ….that's how you feel, you know.  You're listening to music by Eazy-E and you hearing, ‘when you spot a sucker, you kill him’, and so you singing, and you're being ruthless and shit, listening to Ice T and shit, and you figure, ‘I'm gonna be in that life now. I'm gonna ride around with the pistol, and if I see a nigger and a little chick around him, I'm gonna blow his ass away and drive off, cruise on by.’  And if you go to jail, so what. Do year and you're back on the street again…” "


The World According to New Orleans Ballroom Marfa
By Rachel Stevens / MUST BE GOOD JOURNAL #169

What would the art world look like if New Orleans were already a center? This was curator Dan Cameron’s “mind exercise” that catalyzed The World According to New Orleans, an exhibition at Ballroom Marfa that gestures toward introducing the art world of New Orleans to a wider, international art audience. As an art community New Orleans has, in the past, almost willfully refused influence from New York and other art centers. Characterized as insular, however, New Orleans already has an incredible mix of international cultures, including African, Native American, French, Spanish, Cuban and Haitian, that all play a role in the city’s cultural production.

Some orientation to New Orleans’ art heritage is in order, and almost half of the Ballroom is devoted to important work from the later part of the 20th century. Most of this work is figurative in some way, showing ritual processions, characters from the local community and symbolic representations of spirituality and death. God told Sister Gertrude Morgan to paint and so she did—her self-taught paintings of religious subjects hang as testimony along one wall. Noel Rockmore’s more technically accomplished figurative paintings are reminiscent of the styles of a handful of art giants from the canon of 20th century art, but wholly uphold their own cryptic dynamism and beauty. Roy G. Ferdinand’s marker pen drawings warn of urban and spiritual ills. “Indians” dance in slow motion in celebration of Easter in a disintegrating film by Jules Cahn, and documentary photographs by Michael P. Smith show parades, musical processions, dancing, church and a funeral—performances revealing almost no apparent distinction between pleasure, spirituality and mourning.

The elephant in the room is Hurricane Katrina or as residents would rather call it, according to Cameron, the “federal levee break of 2005.” The disaster directed the world’s attention toward this complex place and created a whole new condition from which the art community could reemerge. More than creating a blank slate, the flood, said artist Skylar Fein during a panel discussion on January 10th, “burnt the culture, but returned the nutrients to the cultural soil [as] a forest fire [does].” An art scene was born where previously there hadn’t been one, with a surge of collective art spaces and activity. New Orleans is now, says Fein, between floods, “like Weimar Germany [between the wars], a cauldron of culture.” As it grew, it also attracted artists and curators from elsewhere. Katrina prompted the New Orleans art world to leave the space of regionalism.

The work of the last five years on view here still appears rooted in the culture and place of New Orleans, but more self-consciously. Although there are no explicit references to Katrina, there is an underlying tendency to refer to things that are absent or to address New Orleans as a troubled site that needs some care and attention. Deborah Luster’s vintage-looking grid of rich black and white photos show sites where recent murders have taken place. Skylar Fein’s American black flags communicate a kind of economic desperation with catchy retail discount slogans lining the stripes. Bruce Davenport’s marker pen drawings of high school marching bands in formation, though joyful in the expressions of the figures and in the geometric color patterns that are created by their arrangement, recall groups and traditions that have dispersed since the flood. Courtney Egan’s elegant video projections of ephemeral flora and fauna paired with sculptural objects—a yellow trumpet flower complete with dripping sound and a dry vessel, for example—promise sensuality, but convey an uncanny absence. In contrast Gina Phillips’ narrative painting Salvage Operation, made with fabric, thread and feathers, is tactile, material and present.

Some pieces respond to Marfa as a site. Dawn Dedeaux’s illuminated Steps Home placed on a mostly empty lot, greeted us the night we drove into town, late and lost, from New York. Srdjan Loncar’s Fix-a-Thing pieces attend to small, broken moments in the Marfa landscape. Loncar molds missing parts, such as a railroad tie, from torn-up photographs he has made of the site, and installs them in situ. It is a gesture of kindness, but also of camouflaging, blending in. Dan Tague created metal texts for the courtyard, facing upward toward the bright sky, spelling out names of streets that no longer exist in New Orleans. The most discursive and immaterial piece in the show is Bons Enfants, spoken haikus in which students describe an eclectic array of New Orleans moments. Projected via an audio installation, this distillation of collective social experience transported from one site to another underscores what this show does best.

About as remote a place as one can get for a vital contemporary art destination, Marfa is a specific and complex site with its own curious negotiations between a local culture and an international art world. As such it is an apropos choice for an exhibition about place, whose task is a negotiation between margin and center. Though not an artwork itself, The World According to New Orleans operates as what James Meyer calls a “functional site,” as it generates new discursive spaces for the art, artists and place-ness of both New Orleans and Marfa. It is worth requoting here what Miwon Kwon has already quoted in her 1997 essay “One Place After Another: Notes on Site Specificity”:

"[The functional site] is a process, an operation occurring between sites, a mapping of institutional and discursive filiations and the bodies that move between them (the artist's above all). It is an informational site, a locus of overlap of text, photographs and video recordings, physical places and things.... It is a temporary thing; a movement; a chain of meanings devoid of a particular focus."

Although we may be nostalgic for the authenticity of the New Orleans that was, its new visibility and exchange of flows allow us to see the city as one of the "many dozens of potential art centers" that Cameron identified in the panel discussion as the current formation of the art world. Showing in Marfa is a first stop on the New Orleans artists’ transformation into contemporary-artists-as- globetrotters, and Marfa, though remote, delivers to the exhibition savvy art visitors from all over the globe. In an ideal world this nomadism and exposure will enable New Orleans as an art center without leveling its own potent cultural geography.

Rachel Stevens is an artist and writer based in New York City.

Dawn DeDeaux house post-Lunch. Photo by Sara Costello
HUFFPOST Goddess Fortuna Prospect.2

By Penelope Green
NEW ORLEANS — Dawn DeDeaux has been thinking a lot about the apocalypse, and she’d like to get you in the mood, too.​


James Hugunin focuses on Dawn DeDeaux's work in his closing chapter of his book 'Discipline and Photograph'
Dawn DeDeaux: THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS at NOMA New York Times Announcement

VIEWS MAGAZINE COVER/ Stills from Dawn DeDeaux's Installation SUPER CONVERGENCE, 1991



COVER IMAGES / selections from Dawn DeDeaux's


LA WEEKLY / ART PICK OF THE WEEK Dawn DeDeaux's Soul Shadows by Art Critic Peter Frank
By LEAH TRIPLET HARRINGTON                  

I love a good art exhibit. Along with free walking tours, going to an art museum is always on my list of things to do while traveling, and my favorite way to spend a weekend afternoon in Cleveland. And it looks like in the not-so-distant-future I may be traveling for art exhibits! This year, during the run-up to the next presidential election, the Feminist Art Coalition (FAC) has partnered with various art museums and nonprofit institutions from across the United States to present programming that shines the spotlight on feminist thought and art.

They state, “Motivated by the ethical imperative to affect change and promote equality within our institutions and beyond, these collective projects will advocate for inclusive and equitable access to social, cultural, and economic resources for people of all genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, classes, ages, and abilities. This cooperative effort stages a range of projects that together generate a cultural space for engagement, reflection, and action while recognizing the constellation of differences and multiplicity among feminisms.”

There are so many incredible exhibits happening as part of this ambitious programming, so I went through and highlighted ten that I am the most excited about. Here are 10 feminist art exhibits to see in the USA in 2020 / extended due to Covid through 2021:

1.  Out of Place: A Feminist Look at the Collection
Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn, New York
This year the Brooklyn Museum is hosting Out of Place, an exhibit that allows you to take a look at works that have routinely been seen as ‘out of place’ in major museums. By showing mainly unseen works from forty-four artists, the exhibition seeks to examine “how artists can transform long-held cultural assumptions.” Context is integral to understanding art, so this exhibit is “organized around three themes: the role of museums and galleries; work made outside of the mainstream art world; and a focus on the domestic sphere that connects to feminist critiques of art hierarchies.”

2. Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico
National Museum of Women In The Arts
Washington D.C.
Opening in February, Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is the artist’s most extensive U.S. exhibition in over two decades. One of the most influential contemporary photographers of Latin America, this exhibit is comprised of 140 photographs organized around nine themes – all offering “compelling insight into the daily lives and customs of indigenous men and women.”

3. By Their Creative Force: American Women Modernists
Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore, Maryland
As part of it’s year-long 2020 Vision initiative, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is focusing its upcoming programmings on the works of female-identifying artists. That means a rotating schedule of 13 solo exhibitions and seven thematic shows that highlight women’s contributions to art history. By Their Creative Force celebrates the works of female artists in American modernism, including painting, sculpture, and decorative arts pieces. Other notable feminist exhibitions at the BMA include Ellen Lesperance: Velvet Fist and Adorned: African Women & the Art of Identity. 

4. Judy Chicago: A Retrospective
de Young Museum
San Francisco, California
With more than 150 paintings, drawings, ceramic sculptures, prints, and performance art pieces on display, this exhibition showcases Judy Chicago’s long career as a feminist artist. This much-anticipated exhibit at the de Young Museum will be the first complete overview of Chicago’s extensive career and “pays homage to an artist whose lifelong fight against the suppression and erasure of women’s creativity has finally come full circle.”

5. Diana Al-Hadid (title TBD)
Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Born in Aleppo, Syria, and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Diana Al-Hadid creates artworks inspired by her Arab, Muslim background as well as her interest in the blending of cultures. This exhibition will consist of a selection of 10-15 large-scale sculptural works made between 2010 and 2020 that touch on ideas of “spirituality, sci-fi, and science coalesce around a drive toward transformation, subjecthood, agency, and active presence, particularly with respect to the female figure.”

6. Maya Lin: Ghost Forest
Madison Square Park Conservancy
New York City, New York
For her upcoming Madison Square Park Conservancy public art commission, Maya Lin sourced dead trees from the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, a vulnerable site that has suffered severe deprivation. Her installation aims to bring into focus the ravages of climate change on woodlands around the world and serves as a call to action to the 60,000 visitors who pass through Madison Square Park daily. The installation will coincide with a series of public programs, lectures, and events that explore the challenges of climate change and propose potential nature-based solutions.

 7. Upkeep
Arts Club of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois
We are all familiar with the topic of self-care; however, this exhibit, “proposes that daily acts of care should be understood as quietly, yet decisively, disruptive of the status quo” and not a marketing strategy deployed to capture the disposable income of females. Through curating works that approach care as a “complicated nexus of generosity and coercion,” Upkeep seeks to consider how “slight gestures, open questions, repetitive acts, distant memories, and subtle refusals register alternate value systems.” It will be coordinated with a simultaneous exhibition on alternative topics in feminism at the Renaissance Society.

8. Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness
Pitzer College Art Galleries
Claremont, California
September 12 – December 11, 2020

In the fall, Pitzer is hosting Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, an ongoing self-portrait series by South Africa visual activist Zanele Muholi. In the more than 70 photographs, Muholi “uses the body as a canvas to confront the politics of race and representation.” Each self-portrait is black and white and “asks critical questions about social injustice, human rights, and contested representations of the Black body.”

9. Jennifer Reeder: Girls on Film (1995–2020)
DePaul Art Museum
Chicago, Illinois
For twenty-five years, Jennifer Reeder has been making films about relationships, trauma, and coping, with a focus on the experiences of girls and women. Her brilliant film-making and clear activism have won her several Oscar nominations, as well as awards and showings at the top film festivals. Later this year, the DePaul Art Museum will host a mini-retrospective of a selection of Reeder’s films, along with discussions and workshops on women in film.

10. Dawn DeDeaux: The Space Between Worlds
New Orleans Museum of Art
New Orleans, Louisiana
A pioneering multimedia artist, Dawn DeDeaux has been creating video, performance, photography, and installation works since the 1970s. “Anticipating a future imperiled by the runaway population growth, breakneck industrial development, and the looming threat of human extinction.

TEN YEARS GONE / New Orleans Museum of Art  by Terrington Calas

 Lunch with Dawn DeDeaux / Photo by Sara Ruffin Costello


Village Disco / Emily Farranto
"The first work I ever saw by Dawn DeDeaux was from her StePs Home series, which was made in response to the events of 2005. These were public sculptures in the shape of steps that resembled stoops bereft of the house they once lead to. With minimal language these sculptures spoke of loss and even hope (they were lighted). They offered solidarity with those gone both from the city and from the earth. The series represented in Ten Years Gone titled Water Markers was equally minimal, and also used the physical and local vocabulary of the Flood. Tall, slender slabs of polished acrylic contained the translucent image of water and, near its top the water’s surface. Stains made by high floodwater could still be seen around New Orleans when I arrived in 2008,. Most been painted over or razed. These objects remember them. They are to scale and as you stand beside them the experience is physical. There is a terror in these beautiful objects. Like the steps, I don’t know how these works will translate outside of New Orleans or with the distance of time but this immediacy is part of what I like about them.

"One Water Marker
 sculpture was situated among the landscape paintings specifically between two seascapes. This may have been my favorite moment of the show. I imagined all of those old paintings under water.  When you stand next to DeDeaux’s Water Markers you feel the height of the water compared to your body and are physically moved to empathize with those who saw the water rise in New Orleans. "


ARTILLERY MAGAZINE \ Prospect .2 Review  by Clayton Campbell

"...DeDeaux’s zany, smart and wildly imaginative installation goes far beyond illustration to become an atmosphere that is indeed inhabited by the Goddess Fortuna.
The night I attended, I was alone in the installation and began to feel the spirits move. In this stupendous work of art, all that Prospect.2 could be—a national creative moment, a celebration of New Orleans, a cry for the irrational to inhabit the arts once again—was crystallized" READ MORE

Dawn DeDeaux (American, b. 1952), America House (partial view), 1991–1995, 10 life-size translucent photographs applied to doors with acrylic cover; motion detector lights, 10 video installations (one per room), studs, drywall, and ambient sound, Dimensions variable, Collection of the artist, Photo by Dawn DeDeaux, © Dawn DeDeaux

A Survey of Representation of Prisoners In the United States
      BY JAMES HUGUNIN  /  Book Publisher U-TURN PRESS

"Dawn DeDeaux's video tapes, books and installation also take up the plight of youthful offenders, but she extends her outreach back into the very communities that are suffering from gang-warfare, as well as asking White America to take a hard look at the racism, and economic/class inequalities in which this urban violence is largely rooted (her interventions take on an even sharper edge when you recall she is working within the context of a state that voted heavily in favor of David Duke {and during his campaign}). Her projects are not only focused on empowering those behind the bars, of giving them a voice and identity...but also entails using the carceral experiences of these young men - narratives embodied in a variety of media - to wake up their peer communities outside prison to the self-genocide they are currently engaged in...

"The installation - by undermining through allegory the semantic stability of the supposed archetypes of house and warrior - becomes a 'shrine for the homeless warriors of the inner city urban streets.' ...
"DeDeaux addresses the destructive 'situated practices' of gang-banging (a mythos DeDeaux points out in her work that is not only re-enforced by peer values, but pushed by media images of super-warriors like John Wayne and Rambo) and then collaborates with ex-gang members to suggest, instead, politically empowering 'situated practices.'  Forbearance becomes the foreplay to forward-looking political intervention...

"DeDeaux shares 'hope' with the inmates by means of caring about them. Care ('sorge'), in Heidegger's specific use of that term, has been defined by Otto Poggeler as 'anticipatory resoluteness" - a phrase that could equally describe the 'strange attractor' Paul Ricoeur sees at work in narrative....
"Thus DeDeaux's 'talking cure' is not simply the traditional evocation of guilt, insight, and remorse leading to 'rehabilitation' in the bourgeois sense. Her works promotes, to a degree, recognition of the 'de-centered' self, the mobile subject, which is present and yet uncannily absent - fixed and yet eroded. ..

"For DeDeaux, judgments have to be made within the context of discursive situations, making a fixed position based on either term of any simple dichotomy quite problematic. The pleasure of difference (us/them, etc.) is largely undermined by DeDeaux's strategies. She gives little safe haven for installation viewers to retell themselves the stereotypical narrative of the 'Other.' It is this resistance to hypostasis - involving a conception of meaning generated by words that the speakers/writers take and give back to the community such that a voice can mean, but only with others (at times in a chorus, at times in dialogue) in a perpetual struggle between the extremes of canonization and heteroglossia that links DeDeaux's installation to Judith Hopkins' Ventura School Project, to Camhi's The Prison Experience, and Finley's more radical anti-narrative Nomads at the 25 Door...
“The complex intertextuality of DeDeaux's inter-media presentation - its appeal to many senses at once, its multi-layered narratives and allegorical slippage into multiplicity of meaning - was further enhanced by the community events that accompanied her exhibition. It is this multi-leveled, many pronged strategy that makes DeDeaux's efforts a particularly effective model for future artistic interventions into the carceral regime."
James Hugunin is an Art Historian at the Chicago Art Institute.



Dawn DeDeaux (American, b. 1952), Grasping Nature, 2014, Photograph printed on archival paper, 60 x 42 inches, Collection of the artist, Photo by Dawn DeDeaux, © Dawn DeDeaux

Prospect 5 Triennial: Aware, Awake, and Alive
Prospect New Orleans, a triennial born after Hurricane Katrina and now in its 5th iteration, is both a call to action and a call to prayer.

By Bridget Goodbody

EXCERPT: Itinerary 3: City Park and Bayou St. John
Discover Dawn DeDeaux’s retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park, one of the city’s genuinely romantic places...

While not officially part of Prospect 5, Dawn DeDeaux’s The Space Between Worlds is a must-see meditation on the precariousness and preciousness of existence. The experience inspires the feeling of calm after a storm — and the gratitude you feel when you’ve lived to tell the story.Enter NOMA through its neoclassical facade of towering columns and enter a light-filled, Greek temple of a courtyard. The exhibition starts here with a series of DeDeaux’s silver-toned, larger-than-life portraits of cosmonauts who emerge, ghost-like, from dark matter. Weathered and battered, they line the walls on both sides of the courtyard, ushering you inside. Nod to these wispy spirit guides and walk through the courtyard toward the exhibition entrance at the back of the museum. Step inside the black box galleries, where you’ll find metal trusses hanging from the ceiling. This, and the darkness and hush, make the space feel like a stage set.The first artwork you’ll see is CB Radio Booths — a performance from the mid-1970s where Dedeaux placed phone booths throughout the city so people from different neighborhoods could talk to each other across geographical and racial divides. Here, it is recreated with street signs, actual booths, and pictures of people using the radios and wearing clothes you’d see in a 70s TV show.

The show quickly turns to darker, more profound topics. The Face of God, In Search Of (1996/2021) features a hospital bed surrounded by a three-screen video. Made after her little sister died from cancer, it features flickering, menacing images of dreams and nightmares, birth and death, floods, and baby turtles dying on hot red sand. The electrified cello soundtrack evokes 1950s Hollywood. DeDeaux lost much of her studio to Katrina in 2005 and then to fire in 2006. Parts of the show track the emotional experience of this devastation — as in Gulf to Galaxy, where piles of shattered glass from car windshields are arranged in patterns of a hurricane pinwheel. And also, in Burnt Chimes, charred beams salvaged from her studio are hung from the ceiling like dying branches.These works feel personal and intimate, but the show moves on to more public visions of climate change and natural disasters. Videos and sculptures against backdrops of floor-to-ceiling photographs are combined into a mise en scene that depicts, artfully and beautifully, the devastations of oil spills, erosion, floods, fires, and oak trees dying from chemical poisoning.

All this leads to DeDeaux’s most recent work and the exhibition’s tour de force, Where’s Mary? A 70-foot-long projection on a curved wall behind a two-foot-tall marble sculpture of a goddess figure, worn ragged by weather and time. Spotlit and white, the figure is still against an abstracted backdrop of volcanoes exploding, glaciers melting, and asteroids cascading. Will our saints save us now? If all this sounds doom and gloom, it isn’t. Yes, the show reminds us of the risks we take when we mess with Mother Nature. But Dedeaux’s art is made with a loving human touch and hope for the possibility of humanity to rise again — if we’d just care a little more for the environment and each other.


The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has grown to become a contemporary art juggernaut / 
by Ariella Budick

EXCERPT:Mass MoCA has no permanent collection but the art in its short- and long-term loans covers an astonishing range of materials and technology, from pure white light to 20-ton stones, from scraps of rusted metal to high-tech creations. The brilliant Louisiana artist Dawn DeDeaux pays homage to Rauschenberg, and to our frail and damaged planet, by assembling charred wood and evocative bric-a-brac (“an alligator-skin book of Longfellow poems”, a “tape measure stuck on 1”). And even as she forages for relics of our time on Earth, she imagines the fashions of space travel in intricate, wall-sized digital drawings."


During the preview for Open Spaces 2018: A Kansas City Arts Experience on a rainy Thursday, curator Dan Cameron walked a group of journalists and donors through Swope Park. One of the largest urban greeneries in the country and a multifunctional site for recreational and cultural activities, the Midwestern landmark is a historical racial divider, a de facto “color line,” according to Cameron. “Dealing with the political, cultural and economic history of a place like Kansas City, while creating a framework for developing a project like Open Spaces, sometimes resembles investigative journalism, or even detective work,” explained the curator.
Swoope Park hosts the largest portion of the biennial works, including Jacob Burmood’s Draped Form, a cast aluminum sculpture of a draped specter that sits at the park’s entrance and Tree, Broken Tree, a reclaimed dead tree that artist Dylan Mortimer showered with pink paint and glitter to embody revitalization and survival. Also in the park is Dawn DeDeaux’s Free Fall: Prophecy and Free Will in Milton’s Paradise Lost—48 towering columns installed amongst walnut trees, each printed with reflective tape reading a verse from Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” It’s recommended to visit the work after sunset, when the reflective text better appears in dark—consider the evening of October 13 when Janelle Monáe will perform at the nearby historic Starlight Theater as part of the biennial’s concert series. The challenge to read Milton’s centuries-old, yet utterly relevant text about imperfections of human evolution in daylight emphasizes DeDeaux’s statement on our collective numbness and helplessness in the face of social decay. The piece is also an homage to Milton, who was blind when he penned his epic poem.

EXCERPT: " DeDeaux’s Water Markers are, at core, a patent departure from the orthodoxies of old-line minimalism, most notably its firm literalness. Her topic here is the life-world, and human exigency in the life-world — and, specifically, the appalling consequences of the post-storm floods of 2005.
       "She reflects upon this with a poised and all but diffident body of works. No heated sentiment. No lamentation. Instead, you detect a muted yet sustained intensity, a rapt gaze upon nature in the larger sense. And her final rendering is something bordering on the exquisite, something treasurable. The sheer elegance of the sculptures is almost startling."    



sculpture MAGAZINE​​

ESQUIRE MAGAZINE / British Edition
Pages 56 - 62 /  February 1996

Dawn DeDeaux: Art Between the Apocalypses, New York Times feature by Penelope Green

Whitney Museum EXHIBITION BLACK MALE/ Installation View of works by Dawn DeDeaux



By Linda Nochlin

March 1995 / excerpt:

The "Black Male" show at the Whitney Museum is one of the liveliest and most visually engaging exhibitions to have appeared in New York this season.

"My firsts look at the "Black Male" exhibition took place on the eve of my departure for Paris to see the great Poussin exhibition at Grand Palais.  From Paris I went on to South Africa, where, amid the unfolding of a new multicultural world,  I gave a lecture on Mary Cassatt.  Seeing Poussin with the "Black Male" show still on my mind made me look at this brilliant, classical, but quirky artist differently...

​"But the shifts in my perception of Poussin weren't limited to matter of skin color.  The "Black Male" show also emphasizes the role of gender - the ambiguous status of maleness itself - and it made me realize the remarkable extent to which Poussin's work involves gender issues.  Mapplethorpe's startlingly estheticized photographs of black male models, as well as Lyle Ashton Harris's witty nude and seminude self-portraits, deliberate in their anti-estheticism stayed with me, as did Dawn DeDeaux's gold-leafed Rambo...together they shed new light on paintings like Poussin's Narcissus, in which the title character offers up his lovely, doomed body to the spectator like a gift on the surface of the picture plane..."


D​awn Dedeaux, Steps Home, 2008, Acrylic, 30 x 48 x 43 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Aurthur Rogers Gallery, New Orleans, LA. Photo © Fredrik Nilsen.

Dead Deer on a Highway Video Cube and Stillframe by Dawn DeDeaux The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art

14 Theatrical Plans to
Change the World ​​
By Mark Blankership
​​Dawn DeDeaux's MotherShip
Prepares for Planetary Evacuation….
Dawn DeDeaux Interview, Dawn DeDeaux Biography


Dawn DeDeaux Installation View The Space Between Worlds Retrospective Gulf to Galaxy and Burnt Chimes
PAJ Associate Editor Larry Qualls assesses the video works of artist Dawn DeDeaux
Goddess Fortuna Prospect 2 Dawn DeDeaux

Arts and Leisure Section Cover / Water Marker by Dawn DeDeaux

Dawn DeDeaux (American, b. 1952), CB Radio Booths, 1975-1976, Installation of nine CB Radio Booths at various locations in South Louisiana, Collection of the artist, Photo by Dawn DeDeaux, © Dawn DeDeaux



EXCERPT: "Dawn Dedeaux is perhaps the most striking of those artists who combine the ontological concerns of multi-media and video art with a political/social message. The scope of her work is so large and her imagination so fertile that she refuses to be limited by any formal boundaries. Furthermore, she refuses to be constricted by theory or by any kind of critical or social or sexual structures that might limit what she is doing. Her work is neither programmatic nor proscriptive. It exists as both a reality, physical and virtual, in itself and as a prescription for treating the malaise of the art world and as a tonic for the despairing."    READ MORE

NOAR DeDeaux New Orleans Museum of Art

ARTFORUM / Landscape Reclaimed 
Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art
EXCERPT/ “Landscape Reclaimed,” a consistently smart show comprising the responses of conceptual artists to “landscape” and curated by Harry Philbrick, took full advantage of its site: a museum surrounded by aging, under-appreciated Minimalist sculpture and sweeping suburban lawns – in short a site just waiting for Komar & Melamid to stage a local version of their America’s Most Wanted, 1994. Of the artists represented, it was the Soviet-born duo that engaged the community most directly with their sublimely ironic tribute to participatory democracy.

Other artists also stretched the concept of landscape while respecting the parameters of the picture plane. David Diao’s beautifully glib Plots Available depicted a site plan of Green River Cemetery, Long Island’s version of Pere Lachaise which houses the remains of nearly every New York School painter. Beverly Semmes reached back even further into art history with Figure in the Purple Velvet Bathrobe and Cloud Hat on the Beach.

Generally, the more successful contributions to “Landscape Reclaimed” found ways to rethink the genre, while the less interesting pieces desperately inscribed themselves in it. Among the former, I would include Gregory Greene and Nancy Dwyer. By contrast works by Mira Schor, Veronica Ryan, or Nam June Paik’s video sculpture 9 Up Bush were less inspired.

A standout installation by Dawn DeDeaux quietly suggest these artists needn’t have tried so hard to reclaim landscape. Her Postcards to Teddy Roosevelt while Thinking of Yves Klein included two television monitors resting face-up, muffled by translucent wax paper – one showing a deer carcass alongside a local highway, the other sheep grazing near an electrical fence – so that suddenly the sounds of buzzing flies, passing traffic, cowbells, and snapping power lines seemed haunting. Six photo-collages lined the gallery walls depicting repetitive industrial scapes of satellite dishes and chain-linked fences through which viewers could only catch glimpses of brutally strip-mined or otherwise neglected land forms. Their formal beauty as pictures, as landscapes, only added to the installation’s visceral effect. Who would ever suspect that working through, as opposed to reworking, the traditional genre of landscape would have produced the show’s most powerful – and nuanced – work?

​​The World According to New Orleans / Ballroom Marfa            


Prospect New Orleans (PNO) has welcomed two new members to its board: artist Dawn DeDeaux and curator Arthur Lewis, the creative director of UTA Fine Arts and UTA Artist Space in Los Angeles. They will help guide the organization as it prepares for its fifth edition, “Yesterday We Said Tomorrow,” which opens on October 24. Curated by artistic directors Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi, Prospect.5 will take place at museums, cultural spaces, and public sites throughout New Orleans.

“We are truly honored to add two luminaries like Dawn and Arthur to our board,” said Prospect executive director Nick Stillman. “They’re each ideal Prospect board members: New Orleans natives with global impact and experience and hearts firmly rooted in their home city. Any cultural institution, New Orleans-based or otherwise, would be lucky to have them as board members.”

Commenting on her appointment, DeDeaux, whose retrospective, “The Space Between Worlds,” will be held at the New Orleans Museum of Art and run concurrently with Prospect.5, said: “The establishment and continuation of Prospect is among the most important investments in the future of New Orleans and its cultural community—seeding the city and region with access to cutting edge international art at the highest level and interaction with its master practitioners. I look forward to furthering the vision and outreach of PNO as a member of the Prospect board.”


​​​Dawn DeDeaux: The Space Between Worlds​  is the first comprehensive museum exhibition for pioneering multimedia artist Dawn DeDeaux. Since the 1970s, DeDeaux has spanned video, performance, photography and installation to create art that exists at the edge of the Anthropocene, anticipating a future imperiled by runaway population growth, breakneck industrial development, disease, and the looming threat of climate change. In the face of the existential threats we all face, her art presents us with a limited-time-only opportunity to come together and coexist.

Dawn DeDeaux: The Space Between Worlds, previously scheduled for fall 2020, will now premiere at NOMA in fall 2021. In the days just before the lifting of the lockdown, DeDeaux spoke with exhibition curator Katie A. Pfohl about the silver linings of this pandemic “pause,” and finding hope in what feels like the end of the world.


NEW ORLEANS, LA.- Prospect New Orleans announced the appointment of two new members to its board. Dawn DeDeaux and Arthur Lewis will help guide the organization in the lead-up to its fifth edition, Yesterday we said tomorrow, curated by Artistic Directors Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi. Opening on October 24, 2020 and remaining on view through January 24, 2021, Prospect.5 will take place in museums, cultural spaces, and public sites throughout New Orleans. The exhibition will feature artists based in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe, many of whom will produce newly commissioned projects. 

“We are truly honored to add two luminaries like Dawn and Arthur to our board,” said Prospect Executive Director Nick Stillman. “They’re each ideal Prospect board members: New Orleans natives with global impact and experience and hearts firmly rooted in their in their home city. Any cultural institution, New Orleans-based or otherwise, would be lucky to have them as board members.” 

The New Orleans-based DeDeaux has exhibited her art in museums nationwide. Her retrospective The Space Between Worlds will open at the New Orleans Museum of Art in October 2020, concurrently with Prospect P.5. A New Orleans native, she has received prestigious international awards, such as the American Academy in Rome Prize, and the Rauschenberg Foundation Artist in Residence. As an educator, she established experimental art programming for Orleans Parish Prison and has been Visiting Artist at numerous institutions. 

“The establishment and continuation of Prospect is among the most important investments in the future of New Orleans and its cultural community—seeding the city and region with access to cutting edge international art at the highest level and interaction with its master practitioners. I look forward to furthering the vision and outreach of PNO as a member of the Prospect Board," said Dawn DeDeaux. 

Arthur Lewis is one of the contemporary art world’s leading lights. Currently Creative Director of UTA Fine Arts & UTA Artist Space in Los Angeles, he is also on the boards of The Hammer Museum at UCLA, and serves in an advisory capacity at the New Orleans African American Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem. As a tireless advocate for artists and the arts community at large, Lewis will bring his dedication and knowledge to Prospect on the eve of its fifth edition. 

"As a New Orleans native, it’s wonderful to see the impact Prospect has had on the global art market. Many of the projects have served as beacons of hope for artists, with my beautiful hometown serving as the canvas. I am looking forward to extending the reach of PNO and cementing our place as a cultural milestone on the world stage," said Arthur Lewis. 

The last edition of Prospect New Orleans’s triennial, Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp (P.4), took place from November 16, 2017 to February 25th, 2018. This critically acclaimed exhibition featured more than seventy artists selected by Artistic Director Trevor Schoonmaker. During its run, Prospect.4 engaged over 100,000 visitors through the exhibition as well as educational and public programs. 

Dawn DeDeaux has merged art with new technologies for decades to broaden art and audience engagement. Her work has been exhibited in museums nationwide including the Whitney, Armand Hammer, the Aldrich Contemporary, Ballroom Marfa, and a recent two-year exhibition at MASS MoCA. The New Orleans Museum of Art is organizing a career retrospective of her work titled The Space Between Worlds, that will open in October 2020 concurrent with Prospect.5. The Retrospective will feature an overture to “Goddess Fortuna” — her Prospect.2 standout installation produced at the historic French Quarter Brulatour Mansion. 

DeDeaux is a New Orleans native born on Esplanade Avenue next door to the Edgar Degas House and has remained a downtown 7th Ward resident throughout her life. Among her offerings to the magical surrealism of New Orleans, she is the winner of the 1976 Demolition Derby in the New Orleans SuperDome as the only female in a field of 35 contenders. 

Arthur Lewis, Creative Director of UTA Fine Arts & UTA Artist Space. A patron of the arts and a significant collector of both emerging artists and Contemporary African American Art, Lewis – who is a member of the boards of The Hammer Museum at UCLA, Prospect New Orleans, a member of the National Advisory Committee for The New Orleans African American Museum, and is a Global Council member at The Studio Museum in Harlem – is a well-known and distinguished figure in the art world. He joined UTA after serving as Executive Vice President of the New York Design Office for Kohl’s, where he oversaw product design and development. Lewis has also held executive leadership roles at HSN, Hautelook, and Gap Inc., where he focused on brand management, merchandising, and product development. Under his tenure, UTA has exhibited diverse showcases including two collaborative exhibitions: partnering with Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery and another with Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.


​​by Cameron Shaw​

Ms. DeDeaux’s “Water Markers,” acrylic planks reflecting post-breach flood levels, are scattered throughout the museum’s permanent collection, to toss their tall, rippling shadows on walls and floors. They are the only works in Mr. Lord’s show to make direct visual reference to the floodwaters that cost the city thousands of lives and even more livelihoods...​   READ MORE

TOM BELLER, DAWN DEDEAUX, New Orleans MUSEUM OF ART,, New Orleans Artist

Goddess Fortuna Installation Rendering by Dawn DeDeaux


Princeton University ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTE Symposium: High Water Line: Panel with Dawn DeDeaux, Karen Florini and Jeff Whetstone / "Translating Science into Art"

Steps Home by Dawn DeDeaux / Ballroom Marfa Installations.  Photo by Fredrik Nilsen

​​​Doom and Bloom

It may be inappropriate, when seeking to praise a world-class visual artist on the occasion of her first, full career retrospective, to talk about your visit to her house for dinner. But one of the first aesthetic experiences I had in connection with Dawn DeDeaux occurred when I was a guest in a slightly deconstructed shotgun shack that was part of her studio compound in the Gentilly neighborhood of her native New Orleans, not all that far from the grand house on Esplanade Avenue where she lived as a child with her grandmother, down the street from where Degas once stayed.

We sat at a long, narrow wooden table lit by candles, with the ceiling’s slender, exposed planks up above and a few off-kilter architectural columns nearby, the atmosphere somewhere between a beautiful ruin and a stage set. Which is to say, it was unclear if the place was about to fall down, had just been built, or was some combination of the two. Over the ensuing decade, as I became familiar with this inventive artist’s work, I saw that my feeling as her dinner guest anticipated much of the ambiguous thrill of her aesthetic, which often provokes the sensation that life on earth, as we have known it, is being replaced by something far less familiar.

DeDeaux took part in a demolition derby held at the New Orleans Superdome arena in 1976. A photograph of her at the time, holding the championship trophy no less, as the only woman among the 35 competitors, is included in the catalogue for the magnificent career retrospective of her work newly mounted at the New Orleans Museum of Art. It’s a footnote, but as with all her work, its outward playfulness resonates in unexpected ways. DeDeaux has always used New Orleans itself as both an inspiration and a canvas on which to project her fantastically playful and allegorical creations.

Examples of her early installations include a set of C.B. radios set in old phone booths throughout disparate neighborhoods across the city. The artistic sensibility that began with finding amusing and provocative ways to illustrate the disconnect between urban neighborhoods evolved to one focused on the disconnect between our species and its planet. One of this show’s accomplishments is the way it testifies to DeDeaux’s prescience, as far back as the 1990s, in linking social-justice concerns with an awareness of the rapidly changing climate in which we live

.I use the word “we” advisedly, since many of her references are specific to New Orleans and Louisiana in ways that first escaped my understanding. Most notably, some of the artifacts in her “Mothership” installation at first glance looked to me like fanciful-looking spacecraft. Only when I visited the state’s eroding coast did I realize that she was using industrial artifacts from abandoned oil rigs. These capsules were modern-day lifeboats for a decaying and exploding infrastructure on which we’re all dependent.

Another work, Grasping Nature, shows a figure in a HAZMAT suit holding a bouquet of greens while posing under lights, as though for a fashion shoot. DeDeaux’s work with video, performance, photography, and installation has always found ways to engage themes of the catastrophic future and the catastrophic present, ecologically speaking. In her vision, it’s less an ending than a transition to a new way of life or to a new place to live, somewhere other than Earth.

The show’s opening at the New Orleans Museum of Art, a gem located in New Orleans City Park, has been twice delayed—first by the pandemic, and more recently by the city’s staggered recovery from Hurricane Ida. It’s an exhibition that is defined by disaster as much as it takes disaster as a topic, a career retrospective that should assure DeDeaux’s rightful place in the pantheon of internationally recognized conceptual artists whose work sees a bit further around the curve—not a clairvoyant, exactly, but a fiercely original artist rendering our slow-motion apocalypse. —Thomas Beller

Thomas Beller is the author of several books, including Seduction Theory, The Sleep-Over Artist, and J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist

Shattered Glass, Burned Wood and a Monstrous Mummy: New NOMA Show is a Forbidding Feast​​
Dawn DeDeaux is one of those something else artists. She came of age in the 1970s and instead of spending the next 50 years making traditional oil paintings and bronze sculptures, she spent her time making something else.
Her retrospective exhibit titled “The Space Between Worlds” at the New Orleans Museum of Art is a collection of objects that, under other circumstances, you probably wouldn’t consider works of art. There are thirty wooden bowls filled with dirt, an array of charred two-by-fours, three tons of shattered automotive glass, a ruined marble statue of the Virgin Mary, a crusty, 11-foot-tall aluminum mummy, and an enormous wrecking ball hanging on a gigantic chain. Some of the objects are found, some are manufactured. All are symbols.
The wooden bowls contain samples of earth gathered from here and there around the globe, implying the preciousness of our much-abused planet. The charred two-by-fours are salvaged pieces of DeDeaux’s studio that burned in 2006, reminding us of the threat of unexpected tragedy.
The glittering three-ton heap of blue-green, broken windshields, which DeDeaux arranged into the swirling shape of hurricanes, symbolizes nature’s shattering power. The water-eroded marble statue of Mary is a sign of how whole civilizations can eventually wash away. The giant mummy, which has the texture of a molten asteroid, reminds us that at any moment we could be wiped out like the dinosaurs.​
And the ominous wrecking ball, which hangs like a chandelier from one of those antique ceiling medallions you see in New Orleans mansions, symbolizes a whole range of self-destructive, existential menaces that have dominated DeDeaux’s thinking for decades. 
“What if we blow it?" she said, explaining the impending doom embodied in her art. “What if there’s a big, big disaster coming that we can’t recover from?"
DeDeaux, 70, said it’s “extraordinary and very poignant,” to have been granted a major retrospective in her hometown art museum.  She grew up on Esplanade Avenue not far from the New Orleans Museum of Art, her childhood hangout. As a teen she took traditional painting lessons from a New York artist who rented a room from her grandmother.
​DeDeaux went to high school at Dominican. She never earned a college degree, though she ping ponged from college to college for years -- LSU, the University of Colorado, Newcomb, back to LSU, then Loyola. At Loyola, she got swept up in the Marshall McLuhan medium-is-the-message, mass communication thing, which led to her first conceptual artworks.
If you’re old enough, you probably remember the nutty CB (Citizen’s Band) radio craze in the 1970s, when everybody used long-distance trucker lingo like “breaker, breaker” and “smokey” and “good buddy.” Back in 1975, DeDeaux used CB technology to set up free radio booths in various New Orleans neighborhoods, encouraging the city’s various racial and economic strata to communicate with anonymous fellow citizens, just like truckers on the open road.
It was an exercise in breaking down barriers by using the medium of the moment that would have made McLuhan proud. (A reproduction of the artwork is included in the current show.)
Using video projections and prerecorded sound, DeDeaux continued to augment her artwork with mass media techniques from then on. She traces her decidedly dour environmental message to genius physicist Steven Hawkin’s 2018 prediction that humankind only had another 100 years to go, plus the devastation of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which she said “rocked my world.”
Some of DeDeaux’s artwork was destroyed in the flooding that followed Katrina and a subsequent studio fire, but there was more than enough left to demonstrate her role as an avant-garde master.
“The Space Between Worlds” is certainly a cerebral challenge. But it’s not just a game of decoding embedded messages. DeDeaux’s work proves that concepts are only part of conceptual art. In her hands, broken glass, charred wood and gritty soil are as carefully composed and elegantly displayed as any painting in a gilded frame, and more sensual than most. The exhibit, which continues through Jan. 23, is a feast of foreboding beauty.
Doug MacCash​