Beau Patrick Coulon: A Language Everyone Can Understand
“ I want people to feel validated and connected again.”
Featured work: Image from the “Tap Kids” series
Join Ask Artists in exploring the works and thoughts of Beau Patrick Coulon, a photographer and filmmaker working out of New Orleans who documents the adornments and rituals of diverse subcultures in interior and exterior spaces. While travelling through his portfolio, we enter a wide array of political and intimate spheres, and encounter police violence, the dancing human body, and other poignant points of movement, harm, creation and connection. He captures many nuanced, iridescent, tangled and rusted scenes and encounters. Be aware that some of the imagery is graphic. Below, Coulon reflects openly on photography, invisibility, connection, protest and optimism.
More featured works:
5 Questions for the Artist:
1. What is photography to you?
It’s an opportunity to contribute and be of service to the moments we are living through. It’s a way to share stories in a language everyone can understand.
2. What did you make in the past, and why?
All kinds of things. I used to tell stories and draw a lot, as a kid. Tried oil painting, too, but never really got anywhere with it. When I got a little older I loved making prints, reliefs, woodcuts, screen prints — stuff like that. And, I always shot photos, ever since I was seven. Even when I was on the street and living out of a backpack, I’d have a camera and collect images. I’d get doubles so I could trade them like baseball cards with other people on the street. I’d get a little photo album going, and then I’d lose everything and have to start over. There was no deep reasoning behind it, I just liked documenting my life and the people I met. In retrospect, I guess I could say I felt like I was invisible at times, or disappearing, and photography was a way to prove life was real and show that I existed.
3. What are you making now, and why?
Right now I’m putting out a photo book called Revel & Revolt, it’s about the New Orleans punk scene, underground Mardi Gras stuff and protest culture. It’s about these intersecting communities that have come together to support one another and to fight together against the rising tide of fascism during the Trump era. I guess I did the book because I finally had the time to sit down and go through my archive. And more because I think a lot of people these days, myself included, are feeling alienated and alone, especially since COVID. I wanted people to feel validated and connected again. Hopefully, they will like the images as much as I do. I mostly wanted to contribute something to these various communities that have inspired me so much.
4. What are your hopes for the future?
Across the board, I just want things to get better for people and the environment. It’s been a rough time, lately. I’m optimistic that things can improve. I want to be able to continue working toward positive changes within the community and in my personal relationships, and I hope that together we can all create less suffering in the world. Ideally, I’ll get to keep telling stories and making images that inspire.
5. What else would you like to say?
Just the usual: end white supremacy, smash the patriarchy, stop capitalism, and abolish all prisons and police!
Artist Supplied Bio:
Beau Patrick Coulon is a New Orleans-based photographer and filmmaker whose imagery draws from class struggle and subcultural movements. Born in Hollywood, he is the eighth of ten siblings, and he spent much of his childhood bouncing back and forth between California, Florida and Oklahoma. At 13, he moved out of his mom’s apartment to live on the streets with punks he met on Hollywood Blvd, while skipping school.
Coulon traveled across the country by freight train and lived among a network of derelict squats, punk houses, collectives and DIY art spaces. He first arrived in New Orleans in the mid-90's and found kitchen work in the French Quarter. Beau also worked seasonally as a farmhand in Washington, pouring concrete in Montana, harvesting sugar beets in Minnesota, bookbinding in San Francisco, doing demolition in New York City, and framing art in Tampa Bay. Through these experiences, he developed a perspective informed by decades of working-class struggle and nomadic living.
Although he no longer lives on the road or sleeps rough, his past imbues his visual storytelling. Coulon’s imagery is that of one whose love for his subject matter overwhelms the frame. His work speaks the language of the street and transient Americana. Coulon’s photographs explore everyday splendor and profound moments that often go unnoticed among cultural landscapes weighted towards marketed notions of refinement, class, and commerce.
Coulon has shown his work in numerous galleries and art spaces around the U.S., often appearing in group exhibits and benefit shows. He’s had two solo shows: “Marginal Transience,” which opened at ABCO Art Space in Oakland and Nomad gallery in Los Angeles in 2014, and, “Terminal Impermanence,” which opened in L.A. at Makers Mess Studio in 2016. In 2019, he curated, “Nowhere Near,” a group photo show presented in a refurbished boxcar at the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture. Beau has also taken his passion for visual art and narrative into the field of filmmaking, having worked on over 50 productions including music videos, documentaries, feature films and T.V. series. When he’s not collaborating with a film crew, he’s experimenting with a range of analog film media to explore themes of social unrest, liberation, adventure and rebellious humor.