Loyola Theatre Arts and Dance students had the opportunity to take a Props Design class from New Orleans Props Designer Destany Gorhman Bowersmith last semester. For their final, students were tasked with creating food props for a display at the Gallier House Museum. This is a restored pre-Civil War house museum in the French Quarter, originally the home of New Orleans architect, James Gallier Jr.
Each winter, the Gallier House has a Christmas feast on display. This year, Bowersmith was tasked with creating these food props, but knew it would be a great opportunity for students to get involved as well. Students began their deep dive into 19th-century food by taking a tour of Gallier House led by Katy Maddox, a Loyola alum who works at the museum. After that, they looked for research in cookbooks and paintings from the time.
“Because of the specificity of the time period, I had to scrap my original idea and do something else,” said senior musical theatre major Nicole Miller. Students had to make sure the props they were making were historic pre-Civil War New Orleans Christmas foods. Nothing could be out of time period or season, so students had to be careful and accurate in their research. In the end, Miller made galette des rois, the precursor to what we know now as NOLA king cakes.
Despite its challenges, students loved the project. “It expanded my abilities as an artist and a prop maker,” said sophomore Emily Patrick. She and fellow sophomore Chiara Romano made a two feet tall croque en bouche out of Great Stuff foam.
The best part of the project for many was knowing that their work is out in the world. “It’s really awesome to walk by a museum and say ‘Hey! My artwork is in there!’” said Emily Patrick.