NEW ORLEANS — At the King’s Day event, James J. Reiss, III, an Official of the Rex Organization, and Elroy A. James, President of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, unveiled the Rex Organization’s 2021 proclamation and edict.
“Ever since Rex was incorporated as The School of Design nearly 150 years ago, consistent with our motto Pro Bono Publico, ‘for the public good,’ the organization has taken a leadership role in producing and sharing beautiful works of art celebrating Carnival and royal edicts commanding New Orleanians and visitors to enjoy Mardi Gras,” said Mr. Reiss.
“As Mayor Cantrell has announced, Carnival cannot be cancelled, but it must be celebrated differently this year. Both the proclamation and edict the Rex Organization is unveiling today reflect the sad circumstances of this year and the resiliency, optimism, and hope within all New Orleanians that next year we can again celebrate Carnival as we know and love it.”
The Rex Organization’s 2021 Proclamation
Rex always selects a local artist to design its proclamation celebrating Carnival. The artist of Rex’s 2021 proclamation is Shelley Hesse.
Ms. Hesse is a New Orleans painter who is inspired by nature. Her work typically depicts the large birds of Louisiana, the wildlife of Africa, and unique sea life. She works in watercolor and gouache on paper, and she has worked as a full-time artist for over twenty years.
She has also collaborated with Anthropologie on a home line that bears her name. Ms. Hesse has clients all over the world, with her primary markets being New Orleans, Dallas, and the East Coast.
The 2021 proclamation is her second proclamation for the School of Design; her first being the “All Creatures Great and Small” proclamation of 2013.
As described by Ms. Hesse, “This year’s proclamation was borne as a symbol of our great city’s
endurance; the riderless captain’s horse embodying the spirit of Mardi Gras and the Rex Organization — which gallops on. It represents a bridge between what we have all endured and what is waiting for us on the other side — healing, prosperity, and life.”
The Rex Organization’s 2021 Edict
Since its earliest days nearly 150 years ago, Rex has issued royal messages declaring Carnival celebration and commanding his subjects to gather and join in the festivities.
When Rex, the King of Carnival and Monarch of Merriment, began his reign over Mardi Gras in 1872, New Orleans was struggling through the years of Reconstruction, and civic leaders wanted to attract more visitors to the city. Rex’s royal messages were posted in newspapers and train depots around the country, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans became a major tourist destination.
On King’s Day in years past, Rex has issued similar edicts inviting all to come to New Orleans to celebrate Carnival, and, with the help of New Orleans tourism officials, those invitations have been circulated worldwide. This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the King of Carnival greets his subjects with a different message, appropriate to the challenges of this Carnival season.
Rex’s 2021 edict was created by Matthew Hales, and incorporated artwork from 19th Century Rex