Setting off on a voyage, travelers’ minds are typically preoccupied with their immediate concerns: departure times, the relaying of luggage, and the journey ahead. But the sweeping scenes depicting New Orleans history in the local Amtrak and Greyhound station set travelers off thinking about the past.
While many public historical murals are painted through rose-colored glasses, artist Conrad Albrizio chose to paint 400 years of Louisiana history using intense colors, abstract figures, and macabre moments. The four panels comprising the mural, each over 60 feet long, convey different themes over history: the ages of “Exploration,” “Colonization,” “Conflict” (or “Struggle”), and “The Modern Age.” Inside the panels, viewers will discover depictions of dying soldiers, enslaved workers, nuclear scientists, Vestal Virgins, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse—all woven together to tell the story of the land.
Artist Albrizio was previously funded through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to paint murals throughout the South and, during the 1950s, was part of the Louisiana State University’s Art Department. This mural, one of the largest in the United States when it was completed in 1954, was his last fresco and considered his best-known work.
While the “nightmarish” murals seem to be an unexpected choice for a public space, locals find them to be a fit for the artful and honest city. Following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina (and the use of the station as the controversial Camp Greyhound), the mural was restored by the New Orleans Building Corporation.