“Local Take” Series to Feature Judy Cooper and Rick Olivier

The New Orleans Photo Alliance and the Louisiana State Museum announce the final session of the four-part speakers’ series LOCAL TAKE: AFRICAN AMERICAN PORTRAITURE IN LOUISIANA. On Saturday, May 31, from 2 PM to 4 PM, Judy Cooper and Rick Olivier will show and discuss their work in this genre. Cooper will focus on her New Orleans Sunday series, which features church ladies “dressed to the nines,” as well as the splendidly colorful and exuberant “Second Liners” of the city’s Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. Olivier will feature his masterful portraits of our state’s homegrown musicians, particularly the Zydeco artisans of southwest Louisiana. This presentation will take place at the Louisiana State Museum’s Arsenal Building (entrance through the Cabildo at Jackson Square) and is free and open to the public.

After earning a Ph.D. in French Language and Literature, Judy Cooper taught at the college level before deciding to pursue a career in photography. She developed a specialty in documenting artwork for individuals and galleries, and in 1998, became the staff photographer for the New Orleans Museum of Art. Judy remained in this post until October of 2005, when she and three thousand other city workers lost their jobs as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Judy is a recipient of the Louisiana Division of the Arts’ prestigious Photography Fellowship and has had her personal work featured in many regional and national exhibitions. Earlier this year, the New Orleans Museum of Art honored Judy with a solo retrospective at their institution, adding to previous one-person shows in Baton Rouge, Houston, Chicago, New York, and Kaunas, Lithuania.

Rick Olivier has been photographing the music and culture of New Orleans and South Louisiana since his high school days, when at sixteen, he won two Louisiana Press Association Awards for Feature Photography. A native of White Castle, Louisiana, Rick moved to New Orleans in 1982 and branched out to doing album covers, corporate reports, advertising, and editorial assignments for major national magazines. His music-related images have appeared on more than one hundred LP and CD covers, and his portrait photographs have been featured on the front of the New York Times Magazine.

Rick is perhaps best known for his book “Zydeco!” — a collaboration with folklorist and music writer Ben Sandmel. Published by the University of Mississippi Press, “Zydeco!” has won the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ “Book of the Year Award” and is widely regarded as the definitive pictorial record of Louisiana’s unique Creole dance music scene. Rick has been a practitioner of traditional black-and-white photography for more than thirty years, and he continues to produce silver gelatin fine arts prints in his Mid-City darkroom.

The Local Take speakers’ series has been developed as a complement to the exhibition Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits, which is currently on display at the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U. S. Mint, 400 Esplanade Avenue. This traveling show – organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery – opened at the Old U. S. Mint on March 13 and will continue there through June 1, 2008. Members of the public who attend the Local Take presentations will receive a voucher for free admission to the Mint.

The New Orleans Photo Alliance is a not-for-profit group of photographers whose mission is to encourage the understanding and appreciation of photography through exhibitions, opportunities and educational programs. Since its inception, the Photo Alliance has sponsored multiple photographic shows and workshops in various locations, including Tarragona, Spain and has coordinated PhotoNOLA: A Month of Photography in New Orleans. PhotoNOLA’s purpose is to showcase and celebrate the photographic arts and to promote cultural tourism through a month-long series of exhibitions and events that take place in December.

New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery hours are Fridays, 3 – 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or by appointment. Visit the Alliance on the web at www.neworleansphotoalliance.org.