LSU Rural Life Museum, September 6-October 29
They are among us: Louisiana’s French-speaking families. In the 2010 census, more than 100,000 people in the state reported that they spoke French at home. But that number is on the decline, which is where a state governmental entity called CODOFIL comes in. Properly known as the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, this unit was created by the state legislature in 1968 to preserve Louisiana’s French and Creole heritage and language.
To mark the council’s 50th anniversary, CODOFIL combined forces with the Louisiana Crafts Guild with the notion of creating a celebratory exhibit of 50 artworks from 50 artists. The response from artists was so overwhelming that instead the council was able to assemble three exhibits in three different cities, with different works in each show. Here in Baton Rouge, more than 40 works will be on display at the LSU Rural Life Museum beginning September 6.
“Creative expression in Louisiana seems to flow freely around us in both performing and visual art,” says Sandy LaBry, one of the exhibit’s coordinators. “The artworks in this exhibit are a hymn of praise to family, land and religion, all things that sustained early French settlers in Louisiana and have been passed down through generations, along with a language that CODOFIL has worked hard to promote.”
The Baton Rouge show will feature creations ranging from paintings and photographs to ceramics and metalwork. The list of Louisiana artists in the spotlight includes painter George Marks, photographer Lucius Fontenot and “chainsaw guy” Kelly Guidry.
“This is a remarkable collection of work that brings together Louisiana artists from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines and gives them all a place in the rich culture of French-speaking Louisiana,” says CODOFIL public information officer Matt Mick. “It’s an honor to see what this language, culture and history mean on a very personal level for each artist.”
An opening reception is set for 6 p.m. September 6 at the museum and will be free and open to the public.