African Descendants in New Orleans: A Visual History
Sheleen Jones, Opening the Gates: A Memorial to A.P. Tureaud (Alexander Pierre Tureaud, Sr.), A.P. Tureaud Civil Rights Memorial Park, New Orleans, 1996, cast bronze
Photo: Courtesy Sheleen Jones
Sheleen Jones's Opening the Gates is a commissioned sculpture of civil rights activist and attorney A.P. Tureaud (1899–1972). Tureaud was the attorney for the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP, and worked with Thurgood Marshall to end Jim Crow segregation in New Orleans. Jones depicted Tureaud as opening the "gates of justice," and the work incorporates wrought-iron gates, a tribute to ironwork produced by enslaved Africans and free men of color in New Orleans, a critical component of the city's distinguished architectural traditions.
Jones is a native of New Orleans. At Xavier University, she studied with Charles Graves, Lloyd Bennett, and renowned artist and MacArthur "Genius" grant award winner John T. Scott. Drawing from her experience as an athlete, Jones has often focused on long implied strength of figures at rest and in motion. Additionally, she often employs silhouettes to examine universal themes. She has long specialized in bronze, a medium that she has come to love for its durability and rich, illustrious color.
After receiving a BFA from Xavier University in 1991 and an MFA from Florida State University in 1994, she taught at Southern University at New Orleans for two years. Since 1994, she has been serving the Orleans Public School System as a "Talented Art" teacher. Returning from a Hurricane Katrina-induced exile, she transferred her teaching service to the Orleans Recovery School District, where she continues to inspire young talents.