The Protecting Power of Destruction

In my last post, I wrote about the connection I perceived between the Baby Dolls of New Orleans and Steve Prince’s artistic depiction of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I was able to visualize and solidify this connection by interpreting several of Prince’s works and perceiving Prince’s horsemen and the Baby Dolls of New Orleans as straddlers of the line between certain dichotomies in order to empower themselves.

However, where in my last post I claimed I saw the most striking evidence of the horsemen’s line-straddling in “Katrina’s Veil: Stand at the Gretna Bridge” and “Dirge,” I first perceived the horsemen straddling the line between the dichotomy of masculine and feminine in “Second Line I-IV.” In these pieces, each of the horsemen is portrayed individually and is dressed in a masculine suit with spiky shoes. Their appearance is juxtaposed by their dainty, feminine poses that parallel those struck by the Baby Dolls while “walking raddy.” It is in this way that Prince depicts the horsemen as straddling the line between masculinity and femininity.

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Those Who Straddle the Line

In my last post, I discussed the Baby Doll maskers of the New Orleans Carnival tradition and their challenging of the Puritan notion of Providence introduced by Dr. Cope. Particularly, I focused on their collective ability to be at once child-like and suggestive, innocent and powerful, traditionally feminine and masculine. This duality is born from the Baby Dolls’ unique, signature appearance and from their audience’s misguided attempts to label, and subsequently understand, them.

Similarly, the first four pieces of Steve Prince’s Katrina Suite, entitled “Second Line I, II, III, and IV,” display a certain duality that puzzled me when I first encountered them. Each piece stars a horseman, a figure and symbol that is prominently featured in Prince’s body of work. The horsemen are clad in suits, ties, and massive, spiked shoes. Additionally, and quite conversely, three out of the four horsemen are portrayed holding a parasol, an accessory associated with the Baby Doll maskers and an arguable symbol of their femininity.

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Providence and the Baby Dolls

Each time a supporting faculty member visits class, I am given more and more tools that allow me to better analyze both Prince’s work and the assigned class readings. Additionally, the contributions of the supporting faculty members grant me different perspectives and ideas that nearly beg to be connected with the art of Steve Prince or with the works of W.E.B. Dubois and Kim Vaz-Deville, the authors of the class’ required readings.

Dr. Cope’s lecture, in particular, not only provided me with such tools but left my mind buzzing with many thoughts and questions, as well.¬† Specifically, I found myself considering and condemning the concept of Providence that Dr. Cope discussed throughout his lecture. I began to think about the idea, both with reference to the Puritans and their definition and manipulation of the word and its application to today’s society, as well. Since the lecture, I have been seeking connections between the Puritan, and even contemporary, idea of Providence and the Art of Steve Prince class as a whole.

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Crossing Boundaries

When Dr. McCoy first announced she would be teaching “The Art of Steve Prince” back in the fall of 2018, I was immediately intrigued. I was not only struck by the powerful image that graced the flyer advertising the course but also by the impressive, and long, list of supporting faculty that would partake in it. I was perhaps most surprised to find Dr. Nicodemi’s name on the flyer since she is a professor of mathematics.

I asked myself why I felt so shocked to find her name there and thought back to my high school biology class, where my teacher taught us about the right brain vs. left brain theory. Since then, I have seen countless computer cases, posters, etc. that bear designs depicting the divisions between right brained and left brained individuals.

According to Healthline, the right-brain vs. left-brain theory maintains that one half of an individual’s brain is dominant over the other. Individuals who are said to be left-brained are alleged to be analytical, methodical, and particularly skilled in mathematics. On the other hand, individuals who are right-brained are said to be creative, artistic and to have a proclivity for art and music.

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