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Exhibition Team

Guest Co-Curators 

Kim Vaz-Deville, professor of education at Xavier University of Louisiana, curated Louisiana State Museum’s exhibition entitled They Call Me Baby Doll: A Mardi Gras Tradition (2013). She is the author of The ‘Baby Dolls’: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition (LSU Press, 2013) and the editor of Walking Raddy: The Baby Dolls of New Orleans (University Press of Mississippi, 2018). She also brings personal experience with Black masking traditions; her St. Martha the Dragon Slayer suit, which she wore as part of the Golden Feather Hunters tribe in 2020, will be featured in the exhibition. This exhibition was inspired by a 2016 Xavier University trip to Cuba. Upon visiting Havana’s Casa de África, a museum of African and Afro-Cuban art and culture, Vaz-Deville began to consider how Mardi Gras Indian traditions resonated with the West African Yoruba spiritual system. Since then, her exploration of Black masking practices, from the Mardi Gras Indians to traditional krewes such as Oshun and Nefertiti, led her to the religious framework of the modern Black carnival.

Artist Ron Bechet, Victor H. Labat Endowed Professor of the Arts, exhibits his work internationally. He often explores the visual culture of the African diaspora, including in several works that formed part of the Prospect 4 installation Rooted in Resistance, Remembrance, Ritual, Resilience: Black Masking Indian. Over the years he has assisted legendary Yellow Pocahontas Black masking Indian tribe chiefs, Allison Montana and his son Darryl Montana, in the construction of their critically acclaimed suits.

Louisiana State Museum

  • Steven Maklansky, Interim Director
  • Bridgette Thibodeaux, Deputy Director
  • Polly Rolman-Smith, Curatorial Services Director
  • Dr. Karen Leathem, Historian
  • Sara Lowenburg, Director of Education
  • Eileen Tomczuk, Curator of Education
  • Tom Strider, Registrar
  • Kira Kikla, Registrar
  • Patrick Burns, Exhibits Coordinator
  • Maria Bennett, Exhibits Curator
  • David Kunian, Curator of Music
  • Wayne Phillips, Curator of Costumes and Textiles, Curator of Carnival Collections
  • Jen Suran, Public Information Officer and Website Content Manager

Xavier University of Louisiana

  • Jessica Dauterive, Website Consultant, Adjunct Professor, Xavier University of Louisiana
  • Mary George, Institutional Repository/Instruction Librarian (retired)
  • Kayla Siddell, Head of Research and Technology
  • Lexcie Thomas, Film Editor (alumnus)
  • Sheleen Jones, Sculptor, Adjunct Professor (alumnus)

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

  • Steve Bourget, Curator of the Americas Collection
  • Gaëlle Beaujean, Curator of African Collections

Southern University of New Orleans

  • Erika N. Witt, Interim Circulation Librarian and Adjunct Professor of Art, independent curatorial specialist engaged primarily with collections management whose main focus is in the arts of Africa and the African diaspora
  • Haitham Eid, Associate Professor of Art and Director of the Master of Arts in Museum Studies Program
  • Sara Hollis, Professor of Art Sponsors
  • Ndubuisi Ezeluomba, Adjunct Professor of Art and Françoise Billion Richardson Curator of African Art, New Orleans Museum of Art


Logo from all sponsors.

National Endowment for the Humanities

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

Tulane University New Orleans Center for the Gulf South

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation

Xavier University of Louisiana

Friends of the Cabildo

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism

This exhibition is funded in part under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition and its companion website do not necessarily represent those of either the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.