FOUNDERS

  • Delaney Martin

  • Delaney Martin (b. 1976, Honolulu, Hawaii) Martin is a multidisciplinary artist. Her work engages the historical and cultural specificity of people and places to create spectacular, immersive environments marked by frequent collaborations and performance. Martin has lived and worked in New York, Los Angeles, London and New Orleans. In 2008, she founded New Orleans Airlift with Jay Pennington out of a desire to give back and go back to New Orleans post-Katrina. Her work as Airlift’s Artistic Director from 2009 -2023 led her to create ever more ambitious, highly collaborative multidisciplinary art works that became Airlift’s creative calling card. This era of her work with Airlift was a deeply rewarding experience that enlarged her practice and her commitment to the power of collaboration between artists and communities. Martin left her full time duties in 2023 to pursue her independent art practice.
  • Jay Pennington

  • Jay is a music producer, cultural-connector, artist manager, writer, event producer, curator.Airlift is a concept that originated in his attempt to find purpose and retain community in the aftermath of post-Katrina New Orleans. Jay left full time duties at Airlift in 2022 to pursue personal work in music and event production.

Team

  • Christian Repaal

    Shop Manager / Lead Fabricator
  • Christian Repaal (b. 1971 in LaPlata, Maryland), an art fabricator, bass player, building contractor, and sometimes art teacher, has lived in New Orleans since 1994. In his many years here Christian has forged deep ties into the local communities of visual artists, musicians, tradespeople, and educators. Both a mason and a carpenter he has been in the trades for nearly 25 years. In the last ten years, since attending UNO for history and fine art (1999- 2003), Christian has built quite a reputation as an art fabricator. Camille Henrot, Christopher Saucedo, and dozens of other museums and artists have utilized and appreciated his ability to communicate their visions through his handiwork. Most recently he has worked closely with celebrated artist Swoon to help her realize some of her more complex three dimensional pieces. Christian has, in his time, trained many young carpenters, masons, and would be sculptors in the proper and safe use of tools, building techniques, and use of materials; both on the job and in the classroom. For the past seven summers he has taught at Lusher Charter Schoolʼs Summer Arts Intensive Program, helping young artists gain new skills.
  • Leah Hennessy

    Curator of Performance & Lead Creative Producer
  • Leah Hennessy is a vocalist, curator, and educator. As lead creative producer for the Music Box Village, Leah has collaborated with artists across multiple genres to shape one-of-a-kind, immersive concert experiences. Her creative practice combines tools of improvisation with jazz, blues and folk influences to play with and investigate the tension between traditional forms and experimental expression. As a curator, Leah’s work focuses on promoting pathways for multi-disciplinary collaboration and creativity—particularly as it relates to fostering local arts and culture. From 2013-2015 she was co-director of Gallery 263, a non-profit arts organization that provides a contemporary voice for the arts in Cambridge, MA through an eclectic array of public programs. In addition, Leah is an experienced music educator and has worked across multiple settings as a teaching artist, curriculum designer, and arts integration consultant. Leah holds a B.M. in Jazz Voice and M.M. in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory, has three independent releases of her own (Talk Listen Door - Talk Listen Door, Leah Hennessy & Nicholas Morrison - Make Your Cozy Little Corner in the Bright Electrified World, The By & By - Some Bright Morning) and is featured on Anthony Coleman’s 2013 recording, The End of Summer (Tzadik).
  • Leah Espinoza

    Interim Executive Director/Creative Director
  •   Leah Espinoza is obsessed with creating artful and transformative experiences, learning and laughing along the way. With a decade under her belt with art direction, curation and exploratory design - she believes in the power of art as language and influential experience. Inspired by sentimentality, silliness and the senses and originally from the midwest; she’s always excited to chat so drop her a line!
  • Alex Abalos

    Technical Director
  •   Alex Abalos is an electrician, musician, sound artist, instrument fabricator and synthesizer nerd who enjoys piecing together unlikely partners, instruments, found sounds, and venues, creating unique and meaningful experiences that help neighborhoods think outside of their barriers and boundaries. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay to a working class, immigrant family with a mentality of “working with what you got,” Alex attributes his success to his DIY attitude. Realizing later in life that he could use it as a tool to connect with people, he brought his passion for music to alternative educational spaces where he can bridge the gap between the avant garde music that he loves and the street culture that he grew up in.   Website Instagram    

Board

  • Bryan Bailey

    Board Member
  • A resident of New Orleans since 1998, Bryan's professional endeavors range from filmmaking to real estate development to technology startups. While seemingly spread over many unrelated fields, at the core of every project that Bryan takes on is a desire to create experiences that bring communities together and that enrich people's lives.
  • Rex Leatherbury

    Board Member

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