Young artist Pedro Richard has earned himself a place in Mardi Gras history, winning the annual Krewe of Muses Mardi Gras cup competition.
About 78,000 cups printed with his original artwork will be flying off of the Muses’ floats toward the outstretched arms of eager spectators on Thursday night.
Richard, an 18-year-old senior at O. Perry Walker High School in Algiers, won for his drawing depicting three robed figures at a feast.
Richard explained his design captures a scene from a story fitting this year’s contest theme: the foods of the Muses.
“I was thinking, back then, they had a lot of music, so I had somebody playing music; and somebody there was probably angry, so the woman on the side, she’s kind of sitting there with her cup; and they always had somebody distributing the food, so I had the woman in the middle, she’s supposed to be the host of the party. She’s sort of smiling,” he explained of his design.
“I tried to dot, do a lot of dots, to show a lot of shadows, and get their hands correct,” Richard said. “I wanted to change everybody’s face. I didn’t want all the ladies to look alike.”
Kathy Conklin, Muses’ head of community involvement, said, “I think his design is just beautiful. It was the artistic quality that stood out to us.”
“His viewpoint is really incredible,” O.P. Walker teaching artist Dixie Moore said of her student.“His art has a lot of depth. I know he’s going to be an artist and that he’s going to make something of himself.”
Richard, who moved to New Orleans from Port au Prince, Haiti, at age 8, said his family is very supportive of his pursuit of a career in the arts.
His favorite piece he’s done so far, in fact, was a gift for his grandmother.
“It was a West African painting for my grandmother,” Richard explained. “It was a table she had that was broken, and she always fussed about it.”
“So I sanded it down, and I painted three ladies holding up drums over their heads and I put ladybugs on it, because it was her favorite, and I put a clear coat on it, and I set it up for her. She took the table apart after I put it back together and hung it up,” he said with a laugh.
Richard’s family members are more than just admirers of his work.
“If I need certain things, they’ll give them. If I need to go somewhere ... they’ll bring me.”
“For the Krewe of Muses party … my little sister and my auntie came and my grandmother came. They’re very supportive.”
Richard will also be with members of his family to watch the parade at Gallier Hall.
Richard said he has already given a few of the 10 VIP viewing tickets he got with his win to his sister, mom, and grandmother.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the parades, and I’m hoping to catch a cup that they throw,” he said.
After the parades roll by, however, Richard’s thoughts will return to academia. He said he is looking into colleges now, “but I have to take my SAT first.”
“I always wanted to teach history,” he said.
In addition to receiving, as the Muses call it, “Mardi Gras fame and glory,” Richard’s win also earned a $1,000 prize that will go to the art department at his school.
“It’s nice because you know obviously Mardi Gras, in and of itself, is a gift to the community,” Conklin said, “but we wanted to be a little deeper than that so that’s been our mission since the get-go.”
“I really do think (the winners) get a sense of pride when they see thousands and thousands of cups with their artwork being thrown and over the years, you know, people keep their Mardi Gras cups,” Conklin said.
“So they can see their artwork throughout the year, making it part of the fabric of New Orleans. I think that’s got to be a thrill.”
Leigh Ann Stuart is a contributing writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.