Black Masking Culture

Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters Mardi Gras Indian suits on display for the first time outside the United States.

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
  • Saturday, 14 – Sunday, 22 September 2019

  • Tapestries Gallery, Room 94

  • Free event

Black Masking Culture photo

Contemporary artist and educator, Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters, and Assemble are collaborating with the V&A to bring Melancon’s huge Mardi Gras Indian suits composed of intricately hand-sewn beadwork to the Tapestries Gallery. The suits, illustrating actual and imagined events from African and American history, will sit in the gallery among rare tapestries from 1425, depicting hunting scenes of boars, bears, swans, otters, deer and falconry.

Melancon’s complex and multidimensional portrayals draw inspiration from indigenous people in America and enslaved Africans and feature imagery rich with symbolism and meaning. The finely crafted pieces address stereotypical representations of black people and tell powerful stories from Melancon’s experience of the African diaspora.

Melancon is based in New Orleans, Louisiana where Assemble have recently established The Material Institute, a new space for the design and manufacture of garments, textiles and fashion. The Institute’s programme is designed to encourage learning through hands on experimentation in both traditional craft and high fashion. Assemble invited Big Chief Demond to be one of the founding teachers at the school.

Curated by Meneesha Kellay, V&A
Supported by Ashley Longshore and Foundation for Future London
Special thanks to Demond Melancon, David G. Favret, Catherine Ince, V&A East, and Tommy Wide, Smithsonian

Part of London Design Festival at the V&A