Louisiana Swamp Rats: Our Love/Hate Relationship with Nutria

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - 6:00pm
Gallier Historic House Shop
1128 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Join us for an educational and entertaining evening with Cree McCree as she addresses South Louisiana's complex relationship with the infamous nutria for most of the 20th-century. About the Speaker: The minute she set foot in New Orleans, during her first Jazz Fest visit in 1988, Cree knew the city would eventually become her home. In 2001, she finally made the move from New York City, where she was a writer and editor for many national magazines. But Cree’s talents paint her more as a native than a transplant. The author of Flea Market America: The Complete Guide to Flea Enterprise, Cree first made a name for herself locally as a thrift-shop fashionista, founding a series of flea markets and costume bazaars and creating her own unique “Cree-ations” for Mardi Gras and Halloween. As an assemblage artist with an eye for the potential in discards, Cree also found value in recycling the by-products of the Coastwide Nutria Control Program, which pays trappers and hunters $5 a tail for killing the marsh-munching invasive species. In 2010, she founded Righteous Fur to turn the fur harvested from Louisiana “swamp rats” into stylish contemporary clothing, and also created an elegant jewelry line made from nutria teeth. Working with a collective of local designers, Cree staged a series of Righteous Fur fashion shows in New Orleans, Lafayette and New York City, which brought attention to Louisiana’s fragile wetlands from the New York Times, NPR, the BBC and other major press. Righteous Fur’s “fashion with a conscience” is also featured in Rodents of Unusual Size, an award-winning documentary about Louisiana’s nutria problem, which recently aired on PBS. Though it closed up shop in 2017, when the nonprofit org lost both its funding and its primary pelt supplier, Righteous Fur served a vital role in raising awareness of the role nutria plays as an invasive species laying waste to Louisiana’s precious wetlands. Cree currently manages Piety Market In Exile at the New Orleans Healing Center, an art and flea market she founded as Piety Street Market in 2011, and organizes two long-running costume sales featuring top local designers every Halloween and Mardi Gras. She also continues to write for a wide range of local and national outlets, and is working on a memoir.

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