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Nola Native Monique Lorden Wins Red Bull’s Nola Has Wiiings Competition

(By Monique Lorden for RedBull) Red Bull teamed up with the New Orleans Pelicans and renowned visual artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums for NOLA Has Wiiings, a project dedicated to replacing backboards at basketball courts throughout New Orleans. Eight local creatives were selected to participate in transforming the backboards into works of art, and the local community was invited to vote for their favorite.

Today, we’re excited to announce the winner who received the most votes – Monique Lorden –an artist and author and co-illustrator of “I Wish for Freedom.” Her winning backboard, “Hoops Dreams and Poetry,” is a visual story of childhood hope and community.

In her own words, “Each backboard told a story and we, the artists, created ways to retell it. Alchemy at its best. I fabricated the aluminum backboard, iron rim, and gold chain net. Using my tech skills, I installed and programmed lights finishing it off with painted contrasting lines, affirming poetry on the rim, and bright colors… I not only told my story but one that is an ode to those who dream, overcame, and those who love the game.”

Monique will be honored at the Pelicans game tonight at the Smoothie King Center, and will have the opportunity to conceptualize and design a basketball court that serves New Orleans.

Law school dropout and artist. Software analyst and author. Mother, sister, lover, and friend. As much as I enjoy existing outside of the lines, I often find myself creating them. Perhaps that is why my forms of artistic expression tend to mirror that fact. As an artist, I am always eager to define who I am through my work so that there is no mistaking of who I am not.

I was raised on affirmations. Being raised on loving words, the richness of community and sports truly helped define who I am, and my parents played a big role in that. Growing up in a modest home on the Westbank of New Orleans, my parents always knew that there was a community inside of me as rich as the community that I was surrounded by. My father constantly told me that I was a revolutionary who could change the world with love. My mother told me that I was an artist as soon as she saw my first piece of work. She even bought my first easel; you know the one every kid receives with the intention to paint but is used for everything but creating art. Nevertheless, my mother trusted my passion, placed me in art lessons, and encouraged me to write because she saw who I was and cultivated my gifts through affirmations and encouragement. My mother was also the tracksuit-wearing superwoman who, at every basketball game, would yell “cut the baseline!” So no matter what I set out to do, my parents were always there to affirm my potential as my cheerleaders and sponsors who encouraged me to shoot for the stars.

Monique Lorden

Red Bull, the New Orleans Pelicans, and the BE Collective teamed up to take down and replace old backboards throughout the city. Eight local creatives were hand-selected by renowned visual artist, Bmike to transform the original backboards into works of art, which can be seen on display in the Smoothie King Center.NOLA’s ability to rebound is apparent in the people, places, and personality of the Crescent City, and the BE Collective’s ability to amplify and teach through art has shown what resiliency looks like despite the pandemic’s unprecedented impact on the community.

In this special celebration of sport and art, fans were encouraged to support local artists and vote for their favorite backboards. The artist with the most votes was commissioned to design a basketball court in New Orleans.

Bmike’s custom backboard, for exhibit only, can be seen on display at Studio BE.

NOLA Has Wiiings Artists:

  • WINNER: 1985 Poet; Artist. Monique Lorden, an artist, author and co-illustrator of “I Wish for Freedom,” a poetic picture book, was inspired by her memories of hooping at the park to create “Hoops Dreams and Poetry,” a visual story of childhood hope and community.
  • Ceaux, a New Orleans-born multidisciplinary artist, has created a backboard inspired by Harrell Park – located on the “Pigeon Town” side of Carrollton – and the color and playfulness that’s felt at playgrounds.
  • Ayo Scott, painter and son of nationally recognized artist John T. Scott, has created “Big Ol’ Lil Big Chief” in collaboration with Big Chief Terrence “T” Williams of the Black Hawk Hunters, which is inspired by the resilient spirit of the people of New Orleans.
  • Kara Crowley. Visual Artist, an artist who embraces black culture and positive representation in her own artistic interpretations, has created a backboard which showcases multiple hands expressing the message of unity.
  • Jessica Strahan, a self-taught painter and muralist native to and based in New Orleans, has created a backboard inspired by dance and its ability to take people through vibrant moments in time.
  • Marc Verrett. MarcFreshArt, a Baton Rouge based muralist, has created a backboard that illustrates a positive rise to overcome obstacles through imagery of a skull paired with colorful butterfly wings to represent the eternal drive to fly above.
  • Jade Meyers/THEARTISTJADE, Art director and founder of the art-based company, “J A D E 1 9 9 1,” has created a piece inspired by liberation, growing up in New Orleans, power, nature, Black culture and sports culture.
  • Bryan Brown, an artist whose work focuses on New Orleans culture, random but beautiful moments, and philosophy, has created “The Big Brain,” a representation of getting mentally healthy to unlock one’s true full potential.

Read Monique’s full statement here.

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