Sabrina Mays Montana

 A community and cultural activist is a child-centered educator of thirty years in the New Orleans Public Schools System and trained in Getty Education Institute for the Arts Discipline Based Arts Education Program. Her activism focuses on education, housing, homelessness, crime, culture, traditions and rituals of the diaspora, public policies and more.

  Post Hurricane Katrina, Sabrina worked as the constituent liaison, special events planner, and communications director for New Orleans City Council member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, District D. In addition, she served as the executive director of the Orleans Public Education Network (OPEN), an organization whose mission is to bring the New Orleans community together to engage in respectful and informed conversations on the future of public education and Deputy Director of the New Orleans Recreation Department, where she served as Manager of Operations

  Sabrina divides her time among community organizations including  Greater Treme Consortium,  Idlewood, Parkwood and Forest Park Homeowner Association (President), Treme/7th Ward Culture District Committe, and the Umoja Committee; and initiatives, to name a few: the Celebration of the African American Child (26 years), New Orleans Black Artists Collective, the New Orleans Black Mardi Gras Indian Cooperative, and a member of the Culture Economy working group funded by the Foundation for Louisiana to address rights of publicity and economic sustainability for cultural bearers.  

  Mrs. Mays-Montana has received numerous awards such as, a 100 Black Women Honoree, recipient of the Annual Gert Town Hunger Clean Up Project, sponsored by Mobilization at Xavier University of Louisiana Hunger Coalition, the Zeta Phi Beta Award for Community Service, Mayor Marc Morial Golden Hammer Award, Honorable Mention, Teacher of the Year, McDonogh #15 Creative Arts Magnet, 1992, and Honorary State Representative, 1992, to name a few. Presently, she serves on the Umoja Committee, and East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission, and the New Orleans Black Mardi Gras Indian Cooperative.

Photo taken by Eric Waters

Circle Dance (2009)

A Tribute to Artist John Scott

 “Circle Dance” integrates a staff created by renowned Master Artist John Scott.

  Darryl Montana, a fourth generation Black “masking” Indian, is the Big Chief of the Yellow Pocahontas Black Indian Tribe and the youngest son of the late Allison “Big Chief Tootie" Montana.

  Raised in the masking tradition, at the age of six, Darryl Montana earned weekly allowances by cutting and bottling sequins, beads, and stones from his father, legendary Big Chief Allison “Tootie” Montana old Indian suits. The recycled sequins, beads, and stones were used to make a new suit for Carnival Day. In 1966, at the age of ten, using money from washing cars at a body and fender shop located under his home and his weekly allowances, Darryl purchased materials to complete his first Indian suit for Carnival in 1967.  This was the beginning of a life’s commitment to a family tradition and community.

   A 2012 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painter and Sculptor Award recipient, 2014 United States Artist Glasgow Fellow (Crafts-Traditional Arts), and 2015 New Orleans Arts Council Community Arts Award recipient, Darryl’s exquisite suits have exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally. He exhibited in the New Orleans Museum of  Art He's The Prettiest: A Tribute To Big Chief Allison "Tootie" Montana's 50 Years Of Mardi Gras Indian Suiting, 1995; in the Presbyter at Jackson Square, Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana, 2000; the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Dancing in the Street: Tradition and Invention in Contemporary Carnival, 2000, Los Angeles, California, and in the SITE Santé Fe’s Fourth International Biennial, Beau Monde: Toward a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism, 2001. Additionally, he was featured at the Reg Vardy Gallery School of Arts, Design, Media & Culture, University of Sunderland, Allison “Tootie” & Darryl Montana: Chiefs of the Yellow Pocahontas Tribe, 2007, Sunderland, England, and Southern Arts Federation, Tradition/Innovation: American Masterpieces of Southern Craft and Traditional Art, 2008 –2013. An exhibit of fifty-eight Master artists representing Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, to name a few. Summer of 2006, through a grant funded by the Gulf South Hurricane Relief Project and the James Irving Foundation, Darryl Montana did an artist-in-residence at the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, California.             

  Darryl Montana, assuming his world-renown father’s role, continues the masking tradition, an on-going indigenous African-American tradition and culture which is uniquely New Orleans and began in his family in the 1800s.  He has masked on Carnival Day for more than 40 years and is recognized as a master artisan and historian of New Orleans Black Indian tradition of “masking”.

© Curtis Pierre 2015