Black Alchemy: Remembering Fazendeville Features Forgotten African American Community in St. Bernard Parish at Ogden Museum Exhibit

Source: Ogden Museum

The Darryl Chappell Foundation and Ogden Museum of Southern Art are pleased to announce a public exhibition of photographer-in-residence, Aaron Turner, Black Alchemy: Remembering Fazendeville, the culmination of a ten-week residency.

Aaron Turner is a photographer and educator currently based in Arkansas. Turner received his M.A. from Ohio University and a M.F.A from Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. He was a 2018 Light Work Artist-in-Residence at Syracuse University, 2019 EnFoco Photography Fellow, a 2020 Visual Studies Workshop Project Space Artists-in-Residence, a 2020 Artist 360 Mid-America Arts Alliance Grant Recipient, the 2021 Houston Center for Photography Fellowship Recipient, and a recipient of the 2021 Creators Lab Photo Fund from Google’s Creator Labs and the Aperture Foundation.

Black Alchemy: Remembering Fazendeville will open on Friday, December 9, 2022 at Ogden Museum of Southern Art and exhibits photographs from Fazendeville (“The Village”), a former African American community in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Although the physical community no longer exists, it remains ever-present in the memories of former residents, descendants of the community and through plaques dedicated to its memory. Turner states, “There is a complicated narrative and context as to why the community is no longer around; it involves the community finding itself positioned on a historical revolutionary war site.” He continues, “In this project, my role as the artist is to reveal what is hidden, in collaboration with history, through the photographic archive.” 

To create this exhibition, Turner worked closely with Ogden Museum’s Curatorial Department, specifically Ogden Museum’s Curator of Photography, Richard McCabe. His work is also influenced by mentorship from Earlie Hudnall, Jr. of Houston, Texas.

The results from Turner’s residency will be shared with the general public during PhotoNOLA, an annual celebration of photography that is produced by the New Orleans Photo Alliance in partnership with museums, galleries and alternative venues citywide.

“Black Alchemy represents different hues and shades of black, but also Black is a metaphor for race within the United States,” Turner said in an interview with Big Easy Magazine. “It represents putting a lot of things in front of the camera and see what happens.”

Turner wanted to use his work to tell the story of Fazendeville, an all but forgotten community.

“I wanted to find a history that was interesting but not widely known to the broader community,” he said. “Not many people have heard about Fazendeville and this group of people had occupied this area for close to a century and then lost it to the government. There was a sugar refinery, a cemetery, and a historic battlefield, which is now all federal land. In the middle of it was a private community and it’s sad that those people weren’t able to find the support they needed to preserve their community. They were pushed out.”

During Turner’s research, he spoke to descendants of people who lived in Fazendeville and his work reflects the stories of the people there. He explained that, beginning in the 1930s, government representatives began pressuring the people in Fazendeville to sell their land at a very low value. He notes that today there is no acknowledgement of the people who lived and worked there. By 1964, more than fifty families had been forced to relocate out of the community and Fazendeville was completely demolished by 1966.

Turner wants his work to reflect the people of Fazendeville and hopes that Black Alchemy will encourage people to do more research into the history of the community.

He said, “I hope that people will gain an interest in Fazendeville and research the archives for themselves. There are transcribed interviews, photos, and documents that I didn’t access for this project. There’s a lot to uncover.”

The mission of the Darryl Chappell Foundation is to empower Afrodescendant artists to achieve their highest potential. The foundation accomplishes this by providing funding for Artists-in-Residents program, by facilitating an Artists Talk Series, by curating an online Artists Marketplace and by providing funding for public commission art through the Fund for Community Art. The Foundation’s vision is to build a community of artists who impact the world in exciting and mind-altering ways.

Ogden Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission is free to Museum Members and $13.50 for adults, $11 for seniors 65 and older, $6.75 for children ages 5-17 and free for children under 5.

The Museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information visit or call 504.539.9650.

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