Jonn Ethan Hankins leads the daily implementation of the New Orleans Master Crafts Guild as its founding Director. He previously held the positions of Executive Director of the New Orleans African American Museum, Development Director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Foundation, and Principal Development Officer for Corporate and Community Affairs at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). At NOMA, he directed, “Raised to the Trade: Creole Building Arts of New Orleans,” an award winning exhibition and oral history research project that documented two centuries of families of master craftsmen who built and still maintain New Orleans’ unique architecture. Mr. Hankins has advocated for and lectured to apprentice trainees on the need to revive traditional building trade skills in a post-Katrina New Orleans beset by what has been described as “a lack of traditional building skills in the local population and a low quality of rebuilding that threatened New Orleans’ character” by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales Foundation for Building Community. Mr. Hankins, who holds a BA in Journalism/Advertising and a Masters of Business Administration, has served on the boards of related organizations, including the Louisiana Folklife Commission, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.
Darryl Reeves, a graduate of Epiphany School and a third generation metal worker, is owner of Andrew’s Welding and Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward. He is a board member of the New Orleans Master Crafts Guild and will serve as a primary spokesperson, membership recruiter, apprenticeship host and trainer. Growing up in a family of metal workers, Reeves worked at his father’s awning company, but was first inspired to be a blacksmith by his maternal grandfather who worked on St. Emma Plantation near Donaldsonville, LA. Reeves apprenticed under noted master blacksmith and furrier William “Buddy” Leonard. Regarded as a natural, Reeves is well known for his creative contemporary steel and brass staircase railings and furniture, and is revered for his historic restorations of antique iron work at historic sites. His public commissions include the restoration of the ornate fence at the Presbytery in Jackson Square in the French Quarter, fabrication of a new identical fence (using old techniques) for its sister building, “The Cabildo,” and the disassembly and reconstruction of the massive gate at the Chalmette National Cemetery which dates to 1872. Mr. Reeves has trained apprentices for over two decades, recently as a master instructor for the “Rebuilding Communities” Apprentice Programme, a collaboration of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wale’s Foundation for Building Community, the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, and Delgado Community College.
Jeffrey M. Poree, Sr, a graduate of Epiphany School and a fifth-generation plasterer and patriarch of the legendary Poree family of plasterers, is owner of Jeff Poree Plastering in New Orleans. He is a board member of the New Orleans Master Crafts Guild and will serve as a primary spokesperson, apprenticeship host and trainer. Poree grew up in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward during a time when it was the tradition to pass down centuries-old trade skills from one generation to the next. Poree learned from the best. His father supervised the plasterers in the construction of the Superdome, a testament to the respect for an artisan of color at that time. The Poree family is legendary for their exceptional skills in ornamental exterior and interior plaster, artistic molds and specialty finishes, including old world Venetian and exotic finishes. Jeff Poree Plastering maintains a full time art department and can restore almost any mold by working from fragments, photographs or drawings. Poree is the plasterer of record for many of the region’s most important restorations of historic sites, including the historic New Orleans Collection Williams Research Center in the French Quarter and the Peristyle in City Park. Jeff Poree is the standard bearer for maintaining venerable ornamental plastering traditions of New Orleans.
Juan LaBostrie, an industrial safety specialist, is a resident of the historic 7th Ward and an active member of the Corpus Christi-Epiphany Catholic Church Parish Council. He has considerable knowledge of the impacts of the traditional building trades in the 7th Ward and has made a career perpetuating local cultural traditions as a musician and sound engineer. Juan, who has provided sound and stage management services at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for over 35 years, operates a small mastering facility, does audio installations, sound reinforcement and serves as audio consultant to many artists. Juan is networked to hundreds of musicians and technicians in the region and is considered a master soundman, producer, and record engineer who knows the New Orleans music scene from the inside out.
Teresa Parker Farris is an instructor of Louisiana folklife and a doctoral student at Tulane University where she also oversees marketing for the school’s art museum. She received her Master of Arts degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and her Bachelor of Arts from Haverford College in Pennsylvania. She currently chairs the Louisiana Folklife Commission and serves on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s folklife advisory panel. Ms. Farris was the folklife editor for A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana, published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, for which she wrote essays highlighting the state’s building trades. She has also contributed artist profiles to Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century: An American Anthology and the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.