Tammy Mercure (1976) was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine. She has been featured on CNN Photos, VICE, Daily Mail, NPR Big Picture Show, and more. She was published in the Guardian UK (Big Picture), Darwin magazine, and in the book “Place, Art, and Self” by Yi-Fu Tuan. She has a BA from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from East Tennessee State University. She lives in New Orleans and is a member of Antenna, an artist run collective.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Saints
2014 – current
“A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
(2014-present) Time in New Orleans flows differently. It is closer to the end of the world as we know it. People are compelled to be the biggest version of themselves while it lasts. The Immortals are present. While the city is known for Dionysus, with the revelry of Mardi Gras and the drunkenness of Bourbon Street, and Poseidon is known to wreak havoc, there is much more. Artemis makes her presence known with the 504 boys riding their steeds on the city streets and Hera whispers in our ears keeping empires alive despite interstates fracturing the city. The past, present, and future shake hands and it is beautiful to see.
Exhibition prints are 12″x18″ and 20″x30″ Lightjet Prints
When and where did Saints begin?
Saints began when I moved to New Orleans. I had started making portraits in the South in 2007 while living in Tennessee. Being shy, photography had given me permission to talk to anyone and I became quite addicted to the small connections I could make and the breaking of social order by talking to a stranger. I was delighted that it is a way of life in New Orleans. My first night in town, I walked over to the gas station on the bayou with my friend Courtney and Jewel's "I Was Meant For You" was playing loudly and the entire line started singing together. The man in front of me turned and flashed his shiny golds and said, "most people wouldn't think I love this song".
I started photographing area celebrations of industry, like the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival and the Rayne Frog Festival. I have since added the celebrations of families- birthdays, graduations, funerals, etc.
Where do you see this project going?
The project will be ongoing for some time. Since leaving grad school, I shed the idea of a formal project and photograph where the heart in my eyes take me. I then edit for different purposes- overarching projects that result in books, small sections that are stand alone editorials, etc. It has been a nice mix. I am currently brainstorming on more interactivity to put more content together- it'll most likely be an app, ibook, or interactive longer-form website.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
After being in academia for 16 years, I now have a job-job which suits me better these days. It is a nice combo of some mindless work and some creative- I get to design elements for major brands. When my hours are up, I can focus on my own work.
I tend to be inspired by life more than other art, so going to events and walking/driving gets me inspired. When I am moving through space, interesting things pop out to me.
For my art activities, I love being part of Antenna Gallery- an artist run collective. It is such a great group of artists who all work hard on their own work and our collected interests. Having meandering conversations about every topic after our monthly meetings end are always inspiring and I figure out certain things while curating and helping others put on exhibitions. And the Joan Mitchell Center community coffees are great. Every month all the artist residents open their studios so I can go take a look at in-progress projects.
What’s next for you?
I just got a artist goal planner from a friend where you are supposed to write 1, 3, 5, and 10 year goals and it has some exercises like writing your own obituary. As an avid old newspaper reader, I of course, started by writing my obituary first. Working backwards, to the five years, I am going to concentrating on adding writing with my photography and finding more funding through traditional grants or creative partnerships. (That is the one thing I miss about academia- there were many project grants available).
And for a fun goal, I want to spend more time on the water. We are moving to a small town about 20 minutes outside the city next week and it has some great fishing and kayaking spots.
What other artists should we be keeping an eye on?
There are so many awesome people- I hate to leave anyone out, but to name a few you haven't featured yet- Michelle Groskopf, Courtney Asztalos, Colin Roberson, Lee Diegaard, Janna Ireland, Chris Berntsen, Patrice Helmar, Jen Erving, and Tamara Reynolds.