Since 1995, Dr. Foots has been the only jewelry vendor at the ESSENCE Festival. With more than 40 years of experience, the Treme resident is a silversmith, goldsmith and lapidary artist who creates unique works inspired by African culture. Featured in local and national media such as The New York Times, Dr. Foots is passionate about documenting New Orleans culture.
A self-taught quilter and Louisiana Folk artist, Cely Pedescleaux creates art quilts incorporating traditional African-American techniques. A long-time ESSENCE Marketplace exhibitor, Miss Cely once created a commemorative quilt for ESSENCE Festival presenting sponsor Coca-Cola.
Charles Gillam is one of the newest additions to the ESSENCE Art and Marketplace. This self-taught folk artist, who lives and works in Louisiana, specializes in creating original carvings from wood and found objects. Also know for his paintings, Charles and his wife, Susan, created the Algiers Folk Art Zone and Blues Museum in their Algiers, LA residence.
Jamar Pierre has been a part of the ESSENCE Art Marketplace since 1995 and continues to participate through his gift of visual art. Besides creating the official 2007 ESSENCE Festival poster, Marketplace mural and an original painting for ESSENCE commemorating the 200th anniversary of Treme, Jamar is an intricate part of the community. He is passionate about educating youth on New Orleans’ vibrant history.
Margaret B. Smith is a serious collector of all things pop culture. For the past three decades, she has managed to curate an extensive collection of ESSENCE magazines as well as comic books. Her unique and priceless artifacts are housed in a special area of her Uptown home and are only taken out once a year just for the Festival. Since 1997, Margaret has proudly displayed her rare collection for attendees to view at the Convention Center.
Led by Executive Director Joan Cook and photographer Clifton Faust, this organization works with young, aspiring artists and community educators. It works to create art installations and photography projects while teaching emerging artists entrepreneurial skills.
New Orleans native Sharika Mahdi-Neville has been involved with the ESSENCE Festival’s Marketplace in a variety of ways, starting out as an administrative assistant and now as a vendor. An extremely talented mixed media artist and children’s book illustrator, Mahdi-Neville’s works incorporate music, women and positive vibes.
A Louisiana native, Shirley Wilfred is an entrepreneur and legend within the arts and crafts world. She is most famous for her original and unique “twist hat” designs, which are truly wearable art. Since the late 1990s, Wilford has displayed her millinery and continues to serve the ESSENCE Art and Marketplace proudly.