Culture is defined as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.” This past Halloween I was fortunate enough to visit the magical city of New Orleans. I say magical because there is no other place like New Orleans. Strolling down the street you see people from all over the world, hear their languages, and smell their fantastic food. I had never visited before, but the presence of so many different cultures and cuisines was immense. The Music festival itself was life changing. I had never experienced so many different people from different cultures and backgrounds. The scent of all the divergent foods, the visions of art, and the opportunity to discover artists from all over the world was captivating.
Upon entering the main gate, the first thing you smell is the food. It is automatic and refreshing. The amount of different cuisines was alarming, but necessary to exhibit the identities of everyone participating. Although the vendors are everyday people, each one equally integrated their heritage through the clothes they wore and the cuisine they prepared. The people there, the festival goers, represented culture and individuality. Each festival goer was dressed different, from bathing suits, banana suits, body glitter, or even full on spandex body suits. Everyone was from somewhere different; somewhere that I had probably never been, and would never go. Those extravagant people and extraordinary food all represented the multitudes of varying cultures, in ways I didn’t know could.
After smelling the food, you catch a glimpse of white tent after white tent of art; anything and everything from graffiti and sculptures to stained glass and tapestries, all in colors you didn’t know existed. The most remarkable piece of art was from a vendor born in Africa. It was a simplistic white tapestry inspired by the vivid and intricate patterns of her homeland. She then said something that has impacted me greatly, “art represents culture and darkness that the artist embraces during their life. Everyone has different darkness’s, but it’s how we express those darkness’s and beliefs that make us who we are.” Artists represent themselves and their culture and beliefs through paintings, sculptures or anything that artists themselves classify as art.
While taking in all the art, you can hear the artists giving every performance as if it were their last. Performers engaging their audience, and genuinely being happy to be there. There were 4 stages total; with any given number of artists performing at any time, the music can sometimes get lost, but you must get closer to hear the magic. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to discover artists residing around the world. It’s invigorating that artists worldwide have the ability to integrate their individuality and culture while producing their albums, and throughout their performances. These artists have not only shown a deep appreciation for creating music and inspiring the youth, but also staying true to their backgrounds.
Without this adventure to New Orleans, I would lack the understanding and compassion for different cultures. I would lack the basic understanding that culture is the very basis for who we are and how we are defined. Culture is not only based on art, music, and cuisine but also on religion and ones aspirations.