THE COLOR OF MUSIC
A Visual History Project Exploring New Orleans Musical Pioneers
in Jazz, Blues, & Gospel who Developed These Iconic Genres
in the Brutal Heat of Segregation During Jim Crow
The Color of Music is a new series of expressionistic and colorful portraits on paper created by award-winning visual artist José Torres-Tama. These works explore New Orleans’
musical pioneers of Jazz, Blues, and Gospel, who forged these
iconic "American" genres during segregation.
The Jim Crow South of 20th century New Orleans was a challenging time
for people of African descent, but racial oppression gave rise to
musical innovations that changed "American" music.
Jazz, Blues, and Gospel were born out of a great necessity for creative expression,
and people of color made music as an act of personal empowerment
and collective salvation.
The portraits will be marked by the replication of the wooden signs
that were commonplace in New Orleans and the South,
marking the racial barriers for whites and colored.
Contemporary portraits of Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden, Mahalia Jackson,
Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, and many others will be rendered from archival photographs of these musical giants of the 20th century.
Pictured above is the main piece that defines this series,
and it's titled Louis Armstrong: Between Two Worlds.