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New Orleans, LA​

2023-2024 Grant Alternative New Orleans - in the presence and absence of climate change



Nik Richard is a visual artist, poet, and urban planner whose creative work depicts his journey of growing up in southern Louisiana as a Black indigenous person. Concentrating on social and ecological justice, his work focuses on “depicting Black people in all of our glory, and illustrating the important history of New Orleans through narrative and surrealist digital illustration. With this grant, he will create a series that explores the question, “What would New Orleans look like if…?” As an artist with a career in urban planning, he has both asked and been asked different versions of this question for years. 

“What would New Orleans look like if Katrina never happened? What would New Orleans look like if we allowed the whole city to revert back to green space after the storm? What would New Orleans look like if it succumbs to sea level rise? What would New Orleans look like if we were still the ‘New York of the south?’ What would New Orleans look like if we were allowed full freedom to innovate and build the most technologically advanced city in the face of climate change? What would New Orleans look like if all the people left, and only the ports and petrochemical plants remained?

“Being born in New Orleans has put me at the epicenter of cultural and environmental influence,” says Richard. “I see my artwork as a beacon to the rest of the county which shines a light on the culture we are all influenced by, and the dire climate future we will all soon be faced with.” He plans to spend the next 12 months creating large-scale illustrations of the “What if?” scenarios. He will research “New Orleans’ history with the environment, including how the city survived hurricanes pre-levee systems, and how the taming of the Mississippi River has shaped this landscape for the better or worse.” The work will not only explore these realities but also future alternative versions of the city - both inspiring and dystopian. The body of work will be displayed at a gallery in New Orleans in 2024.

Nik Richard first joined the YAYA Guild in 1994.

All works are copyright of the artist.

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