Darryl Montana

Circle Dance Suit - Tribute to Artist John Scott (New Orleans artist, professor, MacArthur Fellow and Friend), 2008
canvas, glass seed beads, glass pearls, sequins, faceted acrylic stones, Mardi Gras beads, velvet, feathers
96 x 72 x 48 in
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Big Chief Darryl Montana is fourth generation in the Yellow Pocahontas tribe started by his family in the late 1800’s. The unique 3-D geometrical construction technique is attributed to his father and has become the distinguishing style of Downtown Mardi Gras Indians. Montana learned the craft at an early age, making his first suit at age 11 and has been a culture bearer for over fifty years. His elaborate Suits can take up to 5000 hours to complete and incorporate themes like metamorphosis and evolution. In addition to creating these massive pieces, Montana passes his techniques on to children, teaching them how to construct sculptural, wearable art.

Every Indian sews a new suit, unveiled on Carnival morning, requiring a staggering investment of time and money as well as the creative skill to sew and construct.

Cultural Statement: “We’re basically playing a war game. The object is to get to the other Chief, but only a Chief of another tribe can meet the Chief. A Spy Boy from an opposing tribe cannot meet a Chief, so we go through this whole ceremony where Spy Boys meet; they meet and greet and show love and then they move to the side. Then the Flag Boy walks up and meets the Flag Boy of the other tribe. They do their ritual and then split up. The dramatic part comes when the Chiefs meet."