Recap: Intergenerational Beading Class with Creative Assembly Cohort Member Dianne Honoré

This month’s intergenerational beading class at the New Orleans Museum of Art was an experience in tradition, creativity, and connection. Across all ages, participants gathered to dive into the rich heritage of Black Masking Indian beading techniques under the guidance of Dianne Honoré, who is a historical interpreter, advocate for Creole culture, and an artist in NOMA’s Creative Assembly Cohort. 

With each Saturday in April dedicated to exploring this important artistic legacy, participants from NOMA’s Art Thrives initiatives for ages 55 and older, Son of Saint, and the New Orleans Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, not only honed their skills but also forged bonds through shared experiences.

Honoré reflected on the hands-on workshops: “Crafting a program in an artistic space where youth and older adults could connect, discover, and create has been a vision for several years. With so much of our population dispersed since 2005, there is a void when it comes to passing the torch in our neighborhoods. This is how, historically, traditions are lost or changed without guidance from the voices of those who have kept them alive. There is an abundance of wisdom and insight from older adults, while the youth bring their own perspectives and skills that someone might not have considered. The real overall benefit is that we refocus and rebuild the village. I am focused on growing and continuing the program.”

The workshop wasn’t just about mastering techniques; it was about embracing a legacy and passing it forward. Immersed in the culture of New Orleans, participants crafted beadwork but also learned the rhythms of the city’s drumming tradition and Black Masking Indian suits. These elements intertwined to paint a picture of heritage alive and evolving. 

Eric Holsapple, a participant in NOMA’s Art Thrives programs, shared, “What’s nice is—it’s offered for 55 and above for retired people. A lot of them really like doing it. It’s their first creative outlet in a long time. Classes are good because you connect with other people…I think it’s good to do it this way, with the intergenerational component, so that younger people can see what older people can do.”

As the final stitches were made on their canvases, participants didn’t just walk away with finished pieces; they carried with them a deeper understanding of the roots of New Orleans that define their communities. 

Keven Beck, a student at G.W. Carver High School, said, “Painting was my favorite part. I’d never done any beading before. I’ll try it again another time. I do sewing classes, study hall, and I used to do robotics. I didn’t know a lot about Mardi Gras Indians and tradition. I knew a little bit about it but I learned most of it with Dianne. I enjoyed myself.”

Guided by Honoré’s expertise and passion, attendees became part of a living tradition. 

This workshop underscores the vital role that Creative Assembly artists play in nurturing cultural heritage and fostering artistic expression within our city. Their commitment to providing platforms for learning and collaboration offers new opportunities to inspire, educate, and uplift through creativity. 

Art created during the workshop will be on view near the museum’s second-floor classroom from Wednesday, May 1, to Wednesday, May 15, during regular museum hours.

—Kelci Baker, Community Engagement Manager