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The Carnival Collective

Who is the Carnival Collective?

The Carnival Collective is a group of independent New Orleans-based artists who work for the float building companies behind Mardi Gras. They have come together to create Carnival pieces for public collection.

The Mission

All of us have worked or are currently working with local companies to build the Mardi Gras floats that hit the streets of New Orleans every year, something we take great pride in creating. We believe that our beautiful, original pieces should be shared with everyone and have made these pieces available to bring into your home or event exclusively at Miette. Our creations are inspired by work we have built for Mardi Gras krewes in the past, as well as unique Carnival pieces we would like to see on floats in the future. The processes and techniques we employ are ones we have learned in the Mardi Gras dens of New Orleans.

Our city’s Carnival celebration is not a government funded or corporate sponsored event, and thus we are free from endorsements and distracting promotional graphics. The fact that New Orleans Mardi Gras has resisted outside funding to maintain its integrity is a truly beautiful thing, and as a result the krewes and artists have carte blanche to create as they desire. We now hope to share our creations year round, beyond just the short glimpse revealed in the few weeks of Carnival parading. Our larger mission is to enhance the artistry in Mardi Gras by raising a public awareness of who we are and how we build New Orleans’ grand rolling tableaus.

Can you name a Mardi Gras artist? Perhaps not. This is because most of us operate under the building companies and krewes we work for and prefer to remain anonymous. We believe that by stepping out from behind the scenes and introducing ourselves, we are making a commitment to do the best work we can by accepting credit for what we create. Carnival is a large part of the cultural fabric of New Orleans, the only American city that celebrates it in its entirety. We want to encourage revelers, in the midst of clamoring for beads, to slow down for a moment and admire the work that has been lovingly created for our unique celebration.

The Artists

The Carnival Collective is made up of a group of artists who not only work in Mardi Gras, but are also known for their other magnificent works. Thomas Randolph Morrison is best known for spearheading the rise of the Krewe of Hermes, sculpting the Tribute to a River God adorning the pediment of Harrah’s Casino for local legend George Dureau, as well as creating the mysterious New Orleans gargoyles that hang from chimneys, clock towers and even a former synagogue on Jackson Ave. Other artists include Dana Beuhler, Brian Bush, and Caroline Thomas.

Carnival Collective

  • One of the biggest Mardi Gras flowers ever created was the Louisiana state flower, a 10 foot magnolia created for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. That’s 2/7th the size of an average Mardi Gras float!
  • Almost 75 percent of Mardi Gras flowers are recycled from one Mardi Gras to the next. They often have to be repainted and refurbished to look beautiful once again!
  • Up to 80 custom cutout flowers have adorned one Mardi Gras float at a time.
  • The flowers may appear to be metal, but they are constructed in a tedious process of combining poster board, wire, and sculptural elements like foam or paper mache. The wire is important to allow balance and movement as the parade is rolling!
  • One Mardi Gras flower can take anywhere from 6 hours to a full day to create!
  • If one artist made every flower for one Mardi Gras season themselves it would take up to 40 years!
  • The Krewe of Orpheus is known as the master of cut outs and the flowers adorning their floats are their signature.
  • The smallest Mardi Gras flowers are 1 foot by 1 foot, smaller than your average king cake.
  • The flowers are sold exclusively at New Orleans art-boutique, Miette.
  • When visiting New Orleans, you can stop by Miette (2038 Magazine St.) to purchase a flower, or to take a photo in their “selfie garden” where giant flowers and winged-creatures hang from the walls and ceilings.

See More Amazing Photos of the Carnival Collective's Work Below