Wooden Quilt Doors – New Orleans, Louisiana - Atlas Obscura

Wooden Quilt Doors

An artist weaves "wooden quilts" with scraps salvaged from his Katrina-damaged home in Tremé. 

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Pedestrians in New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood might notice a collection of beautiful, patchwork wooden doors. Known as “wooden quilts,” the colorful interwoven entryways showcase one artist’s incredible craftsmanship and history.

Jean-Marcel St. Jacques is a self-taught folk artist with deep roots in the Louisiana soil. A 12th-generation Afro-Creole, he left the state in the 1970s, but returned 16 years ago to reconnect with the land of his ancestors. St. Jacques says he takes his inspiration from his great-grandmother, who made patchwork quilts, and his great-grandfather, who collected junk and upcycled materials in the early 1900s. Like his great-grandfather, St. Jacques transforms what has been destroyed or discarded into art. The materials used in his “wooden quilt” doors were salvaged from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the damage to his home. He considers this practice a way to find higher purpose from the disaster.

The artist’s work is featured in the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum Collection. St. Jacques also sells his artwork online and leads local tours about lesser-known aspects of New Orleans history and culture.

Know Before You Go

The houses are private residences, please respect residents' property.