tribe member

CULTURE — A man from the Mohawk Hunters Black Indian tribe in New Orleans stands in full costume. Robin Williams took the photo in 2016 for her book “Rhythm. Ritual & Resistance: Africa is Alive in the Black Indians of New Orleans,” which is part of a collection in the Smithsonian Library.

The Kokomo Art Association is bringing a bit of New Orleans to town for a fund-raising event dubbed Mardi Gras Main Street Masquerade.

The event comes at the hands of a KAA board member, Robin Williams, who helped put on a large-scale Mardi Gras event on Massachusetts Avenue nearly 20 years ago that continues today. Seeing value in how the event highlights arts education, Williams decided to bring an iteration of that festival to Kokomo.

“I thought, ‘If we could do that on Massachusetts Ave. in Indy, why not here in Kokomo?’” said Williams.

Williams, who holds a bachelor’s degree in musician and artist development and a master’s degree in ethnomusicology, spent time in New Orleans studying the Mardi Gras Indian culture. She said she has a passion for the artwork and storytelling traditions displayed in the hand-beaded Mari Gras costumes.

This type of art and storytelling was something she was hoping to expose the Kokomo community through this event.

“I mean, this story was not just in Louisiana but in other places in the south particularly. When these guys create these storytelling suits that they wear on Mardi Gras morning, there is something behind it,” said Williams.

The event will serve as a fund raiser for the Kokomo Art Association. Tickets are $35, and festivities include live music, dancing, a costume contest, and New Orleans-style cuisine and cocktails. The first 50 people will receive free Mardi Gras masks and beads. There will be a photo booth for attendees to commemorate the event.

Mardi Gras Main Street Masquerade takes take place at Artworks Gallery, 210 N. Main St., on Feb. 22 from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are available in advance on the Kokomo Art Association website at https://www.kaaonline.org/.