NCMA Recommends: New Orleans: Ragging Home

Romare Bearden, New Orleans: Ragging Home, 1974, collage of plain, printed, and painted papers, with acrylic, lacquer, graphite, and marker, mounted on Masonite panel, 36 1/8 — 48 in., Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina and various donors, by exchange

New Orleans: Ragging Home is from a series entitled Of the Blues, in which Romare Bearden (1911—1988) meditated upon the evolution of African American music–from the street bands of New Orleans to the jazz clubs of Harlem. Freely working with collage and paint, the artist sought to visualize the distinctive soundscapes of this music. –Maya Brooks, Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator

The Poetry of Jazz and the Blues

The 1920s brought a decade of creativity in literature, music, and dance in the United States. Much of this creativity was centered in Harlem, where music was central to the cultural renaissance and particularly to Langston Hughes’s poetry. Dig deeper into the poetry of jazz and its relationship to Bearden’s collage on NCMALearn.

Local Artist Connection

Raleigh artist Eric McRay has long been inspired by the work of fellow North Carolinian Romare Bearden. Learn more from McRay about his love of collage and the inspiration he derives from jazz.

Ragging Home–Jazz in and from New Orleans

Romare Bearden’s New Orleans: Ragging Home reflects the immense vibrancy of jazz music. Explore the jazz landscape of New Orleans starting as early as 1895 with this playlist. And for a block-by-block music tour of New Orleans, check out this website.

Mardi Gras Family Activity

The musicians in New Orleans: Ragging Home would have seen the bright and beautiful costumes of Mardi Gras Indians performing during Carnival, the festive period before the Christian season of Lent. Learn more about their handcrafted costume tradition in this video. Then make your own mask inspired by Mardi Gras Indians with this fun at-home activity.

Celebrations of Excess

Purim, the Jewish holiday of hamantaschen, masks, and fun, occurs around the same time as Mardi Gras. Read more about the similarities between these two celebrations of excess.

Join us for our first-ever virtual I ♥︎ Purim Party to learn more about art in the NCMA collection, socialize from your living room, and enjoy a bright spot of fun during the long winter.

Reading and Listening Recommendations

Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston is a newly released collection of short stories–portraits of Black lives and communities–by one of the leading voices of the Harlem Renaissance.

In this Gilcrease Museum story time, poet Quraysh Ali Lansana reads the children’s book My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey, written by Jeanne Walker Harvey and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon.

“The Art of Romare Bearden: Collages Fuse Essence of Old Harlem, American South,” a 2003 report by Neda Ulaby on NPR’s All Things Considered, describes how Bearden, who lived in Mecklenburg, N.C., as a toddler, took snippets of Harlem life and shot them through with vivid images of the American South.

Film Recommendation

Our recommendation and this month’s NCMA Film Club selection is the documentary A Tuba to Cuba, which follows the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they travel through Cuba in search of the music that gave birth to New Orleans jazz. Watch A Tuba to Cuba (2018) by directors T. G. Herrington and Danny Clinch on Tubi.


Feb 12, 2021


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