The CBD hotel Le Meridien and art organization Pelican Bomb have joined forces to bring a single artist's vision to Le Meridien's guests. Avery Lawrence's work was selected through a curatorial process, says Amanda Brinkman, Creative and Operations Director of Pelican Bomb, because it fit the hotel's New French motif and because it was "very New Orleans in ways that might be surprising."
The centerpiece of Lawrence's featured work, a nine-minute silent film titled "Arranging Suitcases", features the artist as a stylized gentleman traversing New Orleans' streets with mysterious blue pieces of luggage in tow. The meditative, dreamlike film plays on a loop in the elevator lobby and is projected on a wall next to the hotel's entrance.
Throughout the hotel, art from the film is prominently presented, such as the eponymous suitcases (whimsically affixed to the ceiling in a corner), prints of Lawrence's distinctive wardrobe, and paintings of scenes from the film. Lawrence created his own brass instrument featured in the film, the "Stationary Bibarisousaphone", which is also installed in the hotel; outside, more conventional brass instruments are represented in a brilliantly colorful mural.
"We want to put artists to work in New Orleans," Brinkman says. "Artists are cultural producers that deserve to be acknowledged... There's a misconception that cultural producers should work for free." Brinkman and her organization believes not only in facilitating large-scale artist projects but in paying artists fair market value. Lawrence, who moved to New Orleans post-Katrina, was able to move back recently after finishing his MFA in Los Angeles primarily due to income from the project. Thanks to Le Meridien and Pelican Bomb, another artist is able to unpack his suitcase in New Orleans.