FIRST PERSON: An artist’s ‘obsession’ with New Orleans tradition

ILO Photo/John Isaac Henry Lipkis in front of his monumental mural depicting a traditional parade in New Orleans.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) marked its centenary in 2019 and as part of the commemoration has launched a photography project called “Dignity at Work: The American Experience”, to document the working life of people across the United States. UN News joined the ILO on a visit to the southern US state of Louisiana.

“My largest mural in New Orleans depicts the parading tradition. Brass band parades are a central part of the cultural heritage of New Orleans. The First Line refers to the main section, the members of the band or club, who have a permit to organize the parade and march in the city. The people who follow the band members, who join in the parade, are known as the Second Line.

I’ve called my mural the Third Line because it is about all the people who, like me, obsess about the Second Line.

The mural itself is a huge crowd of people, dressed in their Sunday best and dancing in the streets. There is a BBQ, there is someone on a horse, people on rooftops, people doing handstands, playing instruments, selling beer.

New Orleans inspired this mural. When I arrived in the city as a travelling mural painter, I heard a tuba playing in the distance. My friend asked me if I had ever been in the Second Line and I had no idea what he was talking about. So, we rushed to the parade and it was a beautiful chaos. The parade peaked under a bridge where the music gets multiplied so there’s an explosion of intensity and people go nuts.

I was blown away in the midst of some of the best music I have ever heard, surrounded by people wearing bright green tailored Italian suits and gator skin shoes. That was the moment I fell in love with New Orleans and I realized I wanted to paint a mural about that culture.

What is special about New Orleans for me is the passion and tradition. I’m very drawn to people who are steeped in tradition, especially those involved in the Second Line and the Mardi Gras Indians, who represent a very old and unique artistic culture in this city.

It was a real honour to be invited to engage with the Second Line artistically. I spent a year getting to know and to understand the community in Bywater and ultimately securing their agreement for me to be able to work on the mural.

Growing up in California, I knew I wanted to be an artist. All kids are artists, all draw pictures, I just carried on.  As a young teenager, I sprayed graffiti and got into trouble a few times. It helped having very supportive parents, which is the biggest blessing.

Work to me, means showing up and putting in the grind. I love all the work I do; some is for money. Painting Mardi Gras floats is my steady work, which covers my rent and bills, and I love doing it. I have one Mardi Gras parade of floats that I design and paint every year and that gives me the freedom to let my other art grow, without me needing to monetize it immediately.

I want my artwork to evoke the magic and majesty that is alive in the world and to see how things can fall apart and grow from the rubble.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Syria’s groundbreaking constitutional talks: ‘a clear success of mediation’ says Guterres in Turkey

10 million Yemenis ‘one step away from famine’, UN food relief agency calls for ‘unhindered access’ to frontline regions

“911, What’s your emergency?”

Nearly a third of the globe is now on Facebook – chart of the day

Climate change is forcing 20 million people a year from their homes, Oxfam says

4 ways Africa can prepare its youth for the digital economy

Germany objects to EU Commission’s plan for a Eurozone bank deposits insurance scheme but Berlin could go along

Alcohol abuse kills three million people a year, most of them men – WHO report

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

This is why mental health should be a political priority

Commission welcomes European Parliament adoption of EU4Health programme

Commission welcomes agreement on the modernisation of EU export controls

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

ECB again to subsidize euro area banks with more than one trillion euro

Thomas Cook bankruptcy: Better consumer and employee protection needed

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ingenu steps up efforts to build LPWA networks across the globe

Greener tourism: Greater collaboration needed to tackle rising emissions

How digital entrepreneurs will help shape the world after the COVID-19 pandemic

MEPs back plans to promote water reuse for agricultural irrigation

The ECB proposes a swift solution for SMEs’ financing

Working fewer hours makes you more efficient. Here’s the proof

COVID-19: A coordinated EU health strategy needed, say MEPs

‘BioSolar Leaves’ are better at cleaning the air than trees, say the technology’s developers

EU leaders agree to delay Brexit until 31 October

Yemen war ‘a test of our humanity’, and we’re ‘badly failing’ warns UN Children’s Fund chief

German Presidency outlines priorities to EP committees

The refugee crisis seen through the eyes of a young doctor from Turkey

EU, Latin America and the Caribbean: Partnering for prosperity, democracy, resilience and global governance

Collective action to enable sustainable growth will be critical to end tropical deforestation

Adoption of new rules to better protect children caught in cross-border parental disputes

Arrest of three Libyans wanted for grave crimes ‘would send strong and necessary message’ to victims, urges top Prosecutor

State aid: Commission approves around €36 million Romanian rescue aid to state-owned flag carrier TAROM

COVID-19: from the chaos of the pandemic to the difficulties in vaccination

Ecofin: ‘The Friday battle’ for the banking union

Haiti cholera outbreak ‘stopped in its tracks’

The UK option: An overarching alternative for the whole Brexit options

Security Council gravely concerned by Ebola outbreak in DR Congo, demands immediate end to violence hampering response

Here’s how to achieve growth in the Middle East and North Africa

Civil society groups matter for Cambodia’s sustainable development: UN expert

European Institute of Innovation and Technology: Commission welcomes political agreement on strategy for 2021-2027

The von der Leyen Commission: for a Union that strives for more

Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019

The challenge of palliative care in universal health coverage

The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer

Facts, not fear, will stop COVID-19 – so how should we talk about it?

Concorde is a reminder that the only way for innovation is up

Parlamentarians to “break up” with reality in the Google antitrust case

Implementation of tax transparency initiative delivering concrete and impressive results

The world has made spectacular progress in every measure of well-being. So why does almost no one know about it?

EU guidance on the handling of visa applications from residents of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions

MEPs to prioritise environment and climate action in next long-term budget

GDP growth slows in most G20 economies in third quarter of 2019

This is why retail is such a sore point in India-US trade relations

Khashoggi murder trials must public and meet international standards, UN expert urges

UN chief seeking ‘renewed commitment’ to global rules and values, as world leaders head to New York

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

A reality check on inclusive innovation

Austerity lovers to put a break on Renzi’s growth vision for Europe? the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

This man is turning cities into giant sponges to save lives

4 key trends on how COVID has impacted women in business

More Stings?


  1. From New Orleans! 🎹🪕🎼🎸🥁
    Replay Friday!

    Chickie Wah Wah presents Johnny Sansone!!! Get your Tunes on this Weekend right here at Chickie Wah Wah via Facebook! 🎼 🥁 🍺 🍷 🎸 🎫

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s