Since its founding in February 2011, Pelican Bomb has become the leading voice in contemporary art in New Orleans. Our staff members collectively bring international networks, a range of complementary experiences, and ongoing intellectual curiosity.
The Pelican Bomb Team
To create a sustainable platform for writing and thinking critically about contemporary art and visual culture in New Orleans.
To elevate the level of cultural criticism and provide regular publishing that is thoughtful, reasoned, and rigorous.
To encourage the collective growth of artists, local institutions, and their audiences.
To cultivate critics at all points in their careers and to provide a space for artists’ own voices within the conversation.
To support diverse perspectives and often marginalized voices.
To introduce new frameworks for using contemporary art as a lens to consider, explore, and challenge the world around us.
And to explore innovative organizational models that support and value the labor of artists, writers, curators, and administrators.
We’ve created each of our programs to strategically address these needs in our city.
Launched in February 2011, Pelican Bomb began as an online publication of arts writing and criticism in New Orleans, born out of a shared desire to provide the city’s growing arts community with thoughtful responses to the works they were creating and exhibiting. As a regional publication, it focused on native sons and daughters, recent transplants, and folks just passing through.
But quality writing doesn’t grow on trees, so editor Cameron Shaw quickly teamed up with Amanda Brinkman to imagine how to support the publication, its writers, and the artists that inspired it. In August 2012, the two launched Pelican Bomb’s Community Supported Art program—the first of its kind in New Orleans—which commissioned affordable, limited-edition works by exciting local artists. This also marked a new era for Pelican Bomb, taking it beyond a publication to an organization with a broadened mission to build and support a sustainable arts infrastructure in the city.
With this new mission in mind, Brinkman and Shaw continued to grow Pelican Bomb to provide artists with additional opportunities to engage and expand their audiences in interesting and innovative ways. In 2014, Pelican Bomb partnered with Atlanta-based arts publication BURNAWAY to pilot a new experiential residency for national art critics, connecting some of the leading voices in contemporary art to local writers, artists, and organizations and amplifying the organization’s role as cultural ambassadors between New Orleans and other places.
The Roving Exhibitions program, which won Pelican Bomb first place at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in 2013, transformed empty, underutilized, or otherwise transitional properties within the city into temporary homes for exhibitions, connecting artwork by local, national, and international artists with New Orleans’ social histories. Pelican Bomb eventually opened Pelican Bomb Gallery X with the goal of providing a physical space for dialogue, inquiry, and conversation—one to match the organization’s vision for its digital Art Review.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Pelican Bomb is continually challenging itself to find new ways to connect with audiences, to investigate contemporary art, and to create outlets for critical thinking.