Art. Is it a Language?

Brandan Odums is a local artist and entrepreneur who has created way for artist like him to showcase their talents here in New Orleans. Odums chose this lifestyle because he wants to give the city hope and also do the thing he loves which is inspiring the youth to understand the past and work hard and be motivated for their own future. He feels that this gift is why he was put on this earth. While he was in the eighth grade he found himself wondering what was so bad or even dangerous about his city, from which his mother had tried to shelter Odums from.

The ongoing statement that kids want what they can’t have applies to Odums because without thinking about it, his mother’s well-intentions of protecting him only helped create Odums’ early curiosity about Bourbon Street and certain New Orleans neighborhoods.  “The kind of work that I do is a conversation with those struggles. I don’t think it could have developed in any other city, because my choice of creating is responding to those problem.” He recognized his gift at a young age and went to school at NOCCA. NOOCA is a school for students of many talents, some are artist like Odums, others sing or take photography classes, and the program also offers teaching young inspiring engineering. Odums isn’t the only celebrity to make it out of NOCCA, the artist Ledsi and Frank Ocean attended there.

Odums always want to help teach the younger generation so he expresses his emotion through something that they will understand and this isn’t just for New Orleans youth. In 2013, he created the 2-Cent Summer Session, a camp that provides young people with media education and incubates new community-minded artists. He has travelled all over the world and drew a mural just so that the people around him that are going through struggles he brings them a pace of mind. “Being a young black male from New Orleans, I already have somewhat of the short end of the stick, but I was a blessed on to make it through and now I want to be the voice for those who feel they don’t have one,” said Odums.

The attitude of an artist is positivity and to be visionary in a learning environment. With Odums, he had a vision to help bring the New Orleans community together in a positive and safe space. Even though this project was open to the public, people heard nothing negative happening in the city. And because it was public, local celebrities as well as popular celebrities came to see the many murals and a few of them performed, which drew larger crowds and became real popular on social media. Visiting the city of New Orleans, people are always having something going on, rather its second-line with Mardi Gras Indians, just jazz bands, or art galleries. The city is artistic and it has produced talents artist musically as well as artist.

Art IS its own language. It expresses what the artist was feeling at the time they started on it. It can even be considered a powerful language. Art can restore hope in a community that has been abandoned or destroyed because of violence or storms. It can help create awareness to the younger generation about the worlds history and how important they are for change. So art wether it has words or just picture art can speak a language and provide an understanding to those who may struggle with understanding the things media covers.

For example, many know about Hurricane Katrina and how homes were destoryed and abandoned after it hit. Odums went to visit those destoryed homes saw an old abandoned apartment complex in the lower ninth ward and then transformed into Exhibit Be, a gallery  of graffiti arts about civil rights, black lives matter, and quotes from famous people that would help motivate people. To an average person, that apartment complex had doors boarded up with ply-wood, the blown out windows, the dust and mold covered interiors filled with left over furniture, children’s toys, cribs and kitchen utensils would give an intense feel.

However, to Odums he looked at the space and instantly saw the magic in the debris. Exhibit Be was opened and free to the public, even allowed schoool tours. Thousands of people in attendance were treated to a dynamic party that drew celebrities such as actor, motivational speaker and author Hill Harper, hip hop artists David Banner, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu and New Orleans’ own Trombone Shorty and the New Breed Brass Band.

With positive feedback, Odums decided to build his own studio that would showcase other art and also show collages of art from the students that he work with. This showcase is called Studio Be and is located downtown, it allows school tours as well as private tours. “I like the feeling of hope and I like that our young people have something positive to do,” said Odums.

The motivation of an artist comes from the hype of their showcases and the feedback from people, such as people to post it on social media or purchase a smaller version of it. With the use of technology now, word spread fast and the art would not just give local audience hope but also audiences around the world, because it is needed.


Artists believe that all people learn and understand objects differently, so why not do it with pictures and memorable quotes. When it comes down to the young people, some aren’t as fortunate to be exposed to understanding how society portrays them, so having local artists working together, it can help teach them in a way that they may understand it.

The rituals of graffiti art is to bring attention to the issues many indivisuals are afraid to talk about. With all the negativity going on, artist choose to express not only how they feel but to teach the youth to have an understanding of the world around them.

Graffiti is an on growing art form and it used to inspire the modern generations. Some may view that it gives the streets a sense of color and personality, which can be hindered by the violence or stereotypes of what may go on in that particular neighborhood. Graffiti allows an artist express how feel, what they believe, and the want to have everyone inside the neighborhood as well as outside to come together. “A lot of people never us their initiative because no-on told them to.” – Banksy, who is an English-based graffiti artist, film maker, and painter, just like Brandan Odums.


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