Every year we honor our culture, our food, and joie de vie – all wrapped up into a beautiful celebration in our Nation’s Capital called Washington Mardi Gras!
In honor of all things Louisiana, the theme this year focuses on the unique people and things coming from Louisiana which have worked to promote love of country. From athletes to actors, food and drinks to seasonings and smoothies, binocular microscope to Higgins boats, even poker and craps (both invented in LA) – Louisiana has produced products and people which have made a huge impact on the United States as a whole, becoming as much a part of the USA as baseball and apple pie.
Celebrating that being uniquely Louisiana is synonymous with
being a patriotic American!
Red, White & Bayou
Candice Alexander is known for portraying Louisiana’s rich history and culture in her artwork. By designing the Mystick Krewe of Louisiana’s Washington DC Mardi Gras Poster, Alexander mixes mediums and 3 dimensional elements to bring the history of the land to life.
Throughout the design, you will find double symbolism pointing to both the legend of Jean Lafitte and the history of the Acadians through the story of Evangeline.
The background and outer layer of the design represents that of the US Constitution. It symbolizes patriotic history and is meant to create a story line for the piece.
The focal point of this piece is a enigmatic woman, symbolically representing two women’s tales. First of which is Catherine LeBleu Sallier, the wife of a political exile Charles Sallier. Her alleged love affair with the most infamous pirate and privateer in the area, Jean Lafitte, caused a jealous rage in her husband. Legend has it that Charles fired a shot at his wife, which supposedly ricochet off her amethyst brooch, similar to the brooch on the chest of the woman in the art.
The interpretation of the woman’s identity could also be that of Evangeline, the main character in Henry Longfellow’s most famous poem about a woman desperate to find her beloved, Gabriel, after the British deported the Acadians and forced them to the desolate land of Louisiana during the mid 1700’s. A closer look will reveal that her Mardi Gras mask is shaped from the Louisiana State Symbol, the Fleur de Lis. Alexander used her handmade replica of a Fleur De Lis from the Huey P Long bridge in Jefferson Parish in the original 3 dimensional version of the piece.
Alexander also handcrafted the ring and the bracelet worn by the woman. The pieces are replicated from an original set of Jean Lafitte pistols from the Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Within the depth of the scenery behind the woman who is adorning traditional Mardi Gras attire, you can see a ship, from which the Acadians made their way to the Southern lands. This ship could also be associated with the alleged piracy that took place off the shores of Lake Charles.
The cabin on the bank represents the oldest home in Southwest Louisiana, the Sallier Estate.
The bank is filled with Louisiana cypress trees that grow from the treasured wetlands. The state tree is called “forever wood” because it does not rot. You will notice Spanish Moss hanging from the tree limbs. The Frame around the original piece is made of this unique conifer. Embedded in the frame are words from the poem Evangeline.
Above the bank, you will find three flags waving proudly in the distance. The United States Flag set as the most dominant flag represents the unity and patriotism of our great nation. The Louisiana Flag. The flag just below, rising from the swamp, is the Acadian flag representing the Acadians fight to turn a desolate land into rich agricultural lands.
On the outer parameter of the design you will find a 3 dimensional mosquito created by Alexander. You will also discover large Mardi Gras beads representing the holiday which is a community celebration unlike any other. There are hidden elements in this piece, two of which are the Acadian deportation cross and a picture of the artist herself.
All in all, The Mystick Krewe of Louisiana, Washington DC Mardi Gras Poster is saturated in the rich history of Louisiana.
Alexander’s hyper-creativity has produced a piece of art that portrays legends of Louisiana love stories, infamous personalities, foundational patriotism all while drawing from the tradition of the greatest celebration the state has ever known, Mardi Gras.
The original 3 dimensional piece is adorned with handmade works of art such as the: metal crawfish, State Capitol door knob replicas, replicated bridge ornaments, 3 dimensional mosquito and so much more.
About the Artist
Candice Alexander, a native of Hathaway Louisiana, began her professional art career after graduating from McNeese State University in 2002 with a Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts.
She spent 10 years touring the United States, living in her van and traveling to New Orleans, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Her story is one of a “down home country girl” and true artist prodigy with a dream of filling walls with her art work. This dream was realized through a sequence of events that skyrocketed her to success in 2008.
During her stay in Pennsylvania, she was commissioned to create a custom Fleur De Lis engraving. The commission would have covered the cost of her rent. However, her client never returned Alexander’s calls, forcing her to pack her things and move on.
Just a short year later, she set up for a show in the Lafayette, Louisiana mall for Christmas. During that show, the Fleur de Lis engraving became one of the most popular pieces of her career. The demand for her work became overwhelming and 20 years into her career she is now one of the most collected artists in Louisiana.
She has always stayed true to her southern roots by creating work that showcases the majesty of our land in Louisiana. Her clients are spread throughout the United States and the respect she has garnered for her relentless work ethic and artistic ability is fully warranted.
Alexander’s choice of mediums are as broad as her ability to imagine. She has over 800 Fleur de Lis designs, all of which were commissioned pieces. Her creative ability is showcased in her assemblage art, 3D work and metal castings.
Her most recent work, the replicas of the historic Jean Lafitte Pistols from the Calcasieu River Bridge, garnered the attention and respect of the DOTD and the I10 bridge task force, requesting to partner with Alexander to raise awareness for the Build our Bridge campaign. She has also been commissioned to work for celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres, Keith Urban and the cast of American Horror Story.
In accordance, Alexander has been the Southwest Louisiana Artist who has shined a light on the arts in the region. Her corporate work dons the halls of the hospitals in the area. Her humanitarian work is endless as she has donated over $200,000 worth of art for auctions supporting community initiatives. On top of that, her studio and the 100 ft mural that adorns the outside of her building is a local tourist attraction, making Lake Charles’ rich culture more inviting for people from all areas.
Alexander’s story from rags to rich success is a true testament to the grit and determination bred in the hearts of southern natives. Her legendary art is something that all Louisiana residents can be proud to fill their walls with as her story and her work speak volumes of the Louisiana way.
Alexander will undoubtedly go down in history as a relentless entrepreneur audacious enough to mix technique, resourcefulness, talent and technology to pave her own way in the world of art. Her seemingly endless body of work is a reflection of raw skill and genius that will be admired for years to come.
Written by Paige Elliott Vidrine