"Dumb Society" inspired by Carlotta Bonnecaze's 1896 Proteus Procession
Please join us for
FIVE O’CLOCK TEA
Rum, Green Tea, Citrus, Demerara, Nutmeg
FEBRUARY 22 – MARCH 4 from 5-6p daily
Inspired by Carlotta Bonnecaze's 1896 Proteus Procession "Dumb Society"
Among New Orleans’ rituals, none is better known or more frequently misunderstood than Carnival. To many, it means purple, green and gold mylar, blinking long-beads, Spring Break and stale beer on Mardi Gras morning. But, there is far greater richness to a much fuller story; a time past, one with fingerprints of stunning panoramas and exuberant diversity still faintly evident today. This year, in collaboration with Henri Schindler, the internationally recognized cultural authority on Carnival, International House transforms its lobby, taking it back home a bit.
From Twelve Night (January 6) to Shrove Tuesday (March 5), the Hotel celebrates the essential opulence, pageantry, wicked wit and exercise of losing ones self in larger-than-life fantasy. It is the colorful vision of Carnival 1896. The heroine of the story is Carlotta Bonnecaze. With unequalled crafts-womanship of her day, she became the first woman and first Creole to design carnival costumes and floats. Here is her “Dumb Society.”
On display in the hotel lobby are 21 brilliant reproductions from Bonnecaze’s watercolor paintings of costume and design. A whimsical, curious, ironic and playful theme, this timeless collection is a creative expression of symbolism that showcases animals in a human dynamic with refinement and humor.
Guests are greeted by an illustrative peacock at the front of the lobby. Above the front desk, two mice and a rat in prison clothes holding a crow bar dance above a group of eclectic felines. The juxtaposition cleverly plays on the irony of Bonnecaze’s float titled “Watchful Guardians,” where 18-foot cats held a steady gaze over the folly of the mice below.
Above the entrance at Loa, characters from “Five O’Clock Tea” are on display. With a storybook element of Alice in Wonderland, the Jackass serves tea from a bronze kettle to his array of guests: Monkey, Pig, and Sheep all of whom dressed in petticoats and Victorian tea party attire.
Various spaces are dressed with characters from “In Court,” a dramatic scene, originally set to a swamp-like courtroom. Nearby, a Rat dances aside two Roosters from “The Glee Club.” Other corners are adorned by Frogs and Dragonflies.