Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans

There are presently no open calls for submissions.

CAC Gulf South Open Call:

Who lit the fire?

The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans announces its 10th Annual Gulf South Open Call

Anita N. Bateman, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 

Call Opens: Friday, March 3rd-May 5th, 2023

Exhibition On View:

August 5th, 2023 - October 8th, 2023

The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans, is pleased to invite contemporary artists living across the Gulf South region to submit to this year's open call for submissions. Artists who currently live and/or work in LA, TX, AL, MS, FL are eligible to apply. Artists and culture bearers living in Louisiana are encouraged to apply. 

Please review the Submission Guidelines and Important Dates below before submitting to the Call for Artists. 

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION: Who lit the fire?

CW: Mention of violence and sexual assault

“Who lit that fire? Who burned that orchard? Who shot those brothers who laughed their whole lives long?... Who killed the sarpanch? Who broke his hands? Who broke his arms? Who broke his ancient neck? Who shackled those men? Who made those men disappear? Who shot those boys? Who shot those girls? Who smashed that house? Who smashed that house? Who smashed that house? Who killed that youth? Who clubbed that grandmother? Who knifed that aunt? Who broke that old man’s nose? Who broke that young girl’s heart? Who killed that lover? Who shot his fiancée? Who burned the costumes? Who broke the swords? Who burned the library? Who burned the saffron field? Who slaughtered the animals? Who burned the beehives? Who poisoned the paddies? Who killed the children? Who whipped the parents? Who raped that lazy-eyed woman? Who raped that grey-haired lazy-eyed woman as she screamed about snake vengeance? Who raped that woman again? Who raped that woman again? Who raped that woman again? Who raped that dead woman? Who raped that dead woman again?”

- Salman Rusdhie, Shalimar the Clown (2005)

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”

               -Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

The CAC is seeking artists whose works harness radical imagination through frameworks that broadly consider abolition(ism), liberation, environmental sovereignty/justice, diasporas, and speculative ontologies. The cumulative impact of present-day conditions continues to expose our untenable way(s) of living, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the paramilitary executions of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tyre Nichols among countless others. The intersecting crises of racism, economic exploitation, xenophobia, transmisia, and misogynoir have been met with calls to “burn it all down.” Many of those same voices also call for actionable forms of redress– including land back campaigns and the need for reparations– along with provocative, and perhaps, prophetic, approaches for imagining new infrastructures. 

Who lit the fire? asks the question, “What are the unrealized potentials imagined in the eradication of systemic oppression that move us beyond the necessity for resilience and responsiveness to perpetual threat?” We welcome submissions that explore  the liberatory ethos and productive frictions that undergird emergent strategies and shift our understanding of dissolution, revolution, and resolution against varied forms of supremacy. Together, this exhibition seeks to champion artistic works and practices that propel us toward a yet unrealized vision of the future. 


Anita N. Bateman (she/her) specializes in modern and contemporary African art and the art of the African diaspora with additional expertise in the history of photography, Black Feminism/Womanism, and the role of social media in activism and liberation work.Bateman earned a doctorate in art history and visual culture and graduate certificate in African and African American Studies from Duke University, a master’s in art history from Duke University, and completed her undergraduate degree in art history, graduating cum laude from Williams College. She has held curatorial positions at the RISD Museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Nasher Museum of Art. Her academic research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Bateman was the Fall 2022 ARCAthens Curatorial Fellow and a 2022 Graham Foundation grantee for the forthcoming publication, Where is Africa (Center for Art, Research, and Alliances), co-edited with Emanuel Admassu. She is currently the Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


Submission Deadlines: The Open Call will be open from March 3rd, 2023 (12:01am CST) to May 5th, 2023 (11:59pm CST). No exceptions.

Who is Eligible to Submit?

  •  Contemporary visual artists who currently live and/or work in Gulf Coast states (LA, TX, AL, MS, FL) are eligible to apply.
  • Artists must be 18 years and older

Exhibition Stipend

  • All selected Artists will receive a $200 Exhibition Stipend and invited artists will receive additional fees for programming during the run of the exhibition. 

Artwork, Media, Specs

  • Applicants may enter up to four (4) artworks TOTAL. If more than 4 are submitted, only the first 4 submissions will be considered.
  • All mediums are eligible 
  • Work previously shown at the CAC will not be accepted
  • All selected works must be ready for installation at the time of delivery or work will be disqualified
  • Artists must frame work and provide necessary hardware
  • In some cases, artists must provide required special AV equipment and/or display stands that are specific to the work
  • For each submitted work, applicants must provide general technical elements/specifications
  • For each submitted work, where applies, applicants must provide a list of objects/elements that are included with the work and any special display descriptions 
  • Work made of materials that may be hazardous to your health cannot be accepted
  • CAC cannot exhibit any perishable objects or materials, such as food
  • More complicated installations may require self-installation, with support from the CAC install crew. CAC is unable to provide travel assistance.  
  • Selected artists are responsible for covering costs and making all round-trip delivery and shipping arrangements in coordination with CAC. CAC has  limited funds available to provide some shipping reimbursement for work shipping to/from a location that is 100 miles, or more, from CAC.  

*Shipping Reimbursement: CAC has limited funds available to provide eligible Lenders with some financial reimbursement or support for work shipped to/from a location that is 100 miles, or more, from CAC. All initial requests for shipping support must be written and submitted with this completed Agreement. All requests must include quotes from a certified shipping agent for both the delivery and return of the work. To receive any approved reimbursements and/or support, Lender must provide CAC with the following: 1) shipping schedule as requested by CAC. (2) Itemized dated invoice including name, mailing address, phone. (3) All shipping receipts. Approved reimbursements will be distributed in one-payment following the collection of the work and receipt of required paperwork, at the close of the exhibition, unless otherwise agreed upon with CAC.

Files and Uploads

  • To qualify, eligible applicants must follow all requirements and instructions on the Submittable registration form
  • Applicants may upload up to five (5) images/files and five (5) URL links, but you may only enter up to four (4) artworks total (as noted above)
  • Suggested high-quality image type and size: JPEG 300 dpi at approximately 8" x 10”
  • If an artwork is selected, CAC will consider only high-quality images for press and promotion. CAC encourages applicants to submit your best high-quality images. 
  • Suggested, but not required, use easy to access platforms like SoundCloud, Vimeo, or YouTube for audio/video files. (Indicate passwords, if needed)
  • Only the first 5 minutes of video and/or audio clips will be reviewed  
  • Files MUST be titled exactly as requested on the Submittable registration form 


  • Friday, March 3rd: Call for submissions launches
  • Friday, May 5th: Deadline for submissions 
  • Saturday, June 3rd: Artists selected and receive a checklist of their selected work(s) and a detailed loan agreement 
  • Monday-Friday, June 19-23: Artwork received (No deliveries on weekends) 
  • Saturday, August 5th: Official public opening 
  • Saturday August 5th - Sunday, October 8th: Exhibition On View Wednesday to Friday
  • October 11th-13th: Shipped work returns sent out, hand-pick-up scheduled

Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans