Called to Spirit, Women and Healing Arts in New Orleans

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Called to Spirit, Women and Healing Arts in New Orleans


The Neighborhood Story Project 
(Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and Rachel Breunlin)

Since their founding in 2004 The Neighborhood Story Project has used the art of collaborative ethnography to create a vast collection of community-based stories in south Louisiana and beyond. The organization, in partnership with the University of New Orleans, creates portraits of the region by working with their collaborators to move the contours, planes, and angles of a place out onto a cultural canvas. They layer creative nonfiction and in-depth interviews, artifacts, folk and fine art, photographs, and music, among other materials, to craft an immersive space for learning and examination. For many years, The Neighborhood Story Project has turned their books into exhibitions and programs where their audiences are not only observers, but participants, who are able to connect with the lives and narratives presented, and can come away with a sense of how life histories are seated in wider social and cultural contexts. The Neighborhood Story Project often revives and preserves histories which may have been overlooked by mainstream media, and of places that are otherwise at risk of disappearing. Their ethnographies form the basis for art, publications, and performances, creating a new historical record of a place.

Courtesy Prospect New Orleans.


Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130


Exhibition dates: November 6, 2021 - January 23, 2022; Documented 2021


Photographer(s): Jonathan Traviesa, Neysa Page-Lieberman


Called to Spirit, Women and Healing Arts in New Orleans, 2021,was an exhibition curated by Co-Artistic Directors Diana Nawi and Naima J. Keith, on the occassion of Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow, 202122. The exhibition featured multi-media work by The Neighborhood Story Project in collaboration with a number of local culture bearers (Janet Sula Evans, Marie Carmel Loiseau, Nana Anoa Nantambu, Baderinwa Rolland, Luisah Teish, Barbara Trevigne, and Dolores Watson), and was on view at Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans.


About the exhibition:

In this space, you will meet a group of contemporary women healers who Spirit selected to share their journeys from or to New Orleans. We invite you to spend time with their songs, stories, scriptures, and meditations.
–Nana Sula Spirit

Nana Sula Spirit (Nana Okomfo Kokwe Ama Tawiah) is the founding priestess of the Temple of Light-Ilé de Coin-Coin in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Named after her maternal ancestor, Marie Thérèse Coin-Coin, who lived in the Cane River area of Louisiana in the mid-1700s, her shrine is dedicated to the elevation of all souls.

As a young woman growing up in New Jersey, Nana Sula was introduced to the Yoruba traditions. In early 1992, she began her studies at the Ga-Ewe Shrine of Impohema in Accra, Ghana. After moving to New Orleans, she continued to travel to Ghana and, in 2007, she received the crown of Mami Wata, the mother of all waters. Temple of Light is a continuation of this work, connecting people to the Divine Mother energy as well as to their own ancestors.

In 2018, Nana Sula collaborated with The Neighborhood Story Project to create a series of sacred talks with healers whose work is in alignment with the mission of the Temple of Light. We invite you to spend time here, and to leave your own petitions and offerings at our collective altar. 

Courtesy Prospect New Orleans.


Women Healers





Artist(s): The Neighborhood Story Project (Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes and Rachel Breunlin); Photographer(s): Jonathan Traviesa, Neysa Page-Lieberman