As Demond’s methods evolved over the years, he began practicing his portraiture skills on smaller canvases. This eventually lead to him creating a series of beaded portraits of music legends which he then sold at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, winning “Best in Show” for Contemporary Crafts in 2019. In connection with his largest solo exhibit to date which opened on White Linen Night 2019 at the Arthur Roger Gallery, Melancon debuted his newest collection of beaded portraits based on people who inspired him and his experience of the African diaspora.
Big Chief Demond Melancon has been creating Mardi Gras Indian suits since 1993. His style involves sewing very small glass seed beads onto large pieces of stretched canvas to create individually beaded patches. These beaded patches are assembled into a massive suit which is then covered in colorful ostrich plumes. Big Chief Demond will wear his suit only a few times in a given year (Mardi Gras Day, St. Joseph’s Night, and Downtown Super Sunday) before he retires it and begins making another one. As a Big Chief, Demond helps carry on the 200+ year old tradition of what is today known as the Black Masking Culture of New Orleans.