4. WORK FROM 2001-2007 > Sky, Mud and Bones 2002

This past summer we were preparing for an exhibition that was held during the Congres Mondial in Lafayette. The title of the exhibit was L’Homme du Sud (Man of the South) and our focus for this exhibit was the broader region of the American south. As interest in the Congres was building we became curious about this particular region of the south: Southwest Louisiana. The initial hurdle to overcome was the fact that we had lived here most of our lives and the significance of the place was somewhat buried under the well-worn cloak of familiarity.

Artists' Statement by Kathy Reed and Steven Breaux
April, 2000

The challenge for every artist is discovering what will the artist make art about. A well known artist, at the beginning of his career, was facing this challenge and was advised to "paint what you are interested in and, when you begin, begin where you are at." The tenor of this exhibition is a result of following this second-hand advice.

This past summer we were preparing for an exhibition that was held during the Congres Mondial in Lafayette. The title of the exhibit was L’Homme du Sud (Man of the South) and our focus for this exhibit was the broader region of the American south. As interest in the Congres was building we became curious about this particular region of the south: Southwest Louisiana. The initial hurdle to overcome was the fact that we had lived here most of our lives and the significance of the place was somewhat buried under the well-worn cloak of familiarity.

We gave ourselves a set of challenges: could we produce images based on the history, the land, the language and the cultures of the area that would respect the past, yet avoid nostalgia and cliche images? Could we produce images of the Acadian experience that were vital in contemporary terms? Could we assemble a vision of a local cultural experience that related to the world, and one that was meaningful in the present? And lastly, could we make images that could stand artistically with images from the rest of the world?

We immediately began to research our subject. First we took long walks that ended with armfuls of botanical “specimens” from which we drew from life then incorporated into our work. We poured over books searching for trees, plants and flowers that were either indigenous to this area or were common to it. We moved from plants and animals to history, language and law until we were startled to find a rich undergrowth that concealed our personal histories.

The discoveries of our personal histories, though interesting to us, were additional bits that added to the vision we were assembling. It did add greater depth to the picture and reinforced a continuity into the present that made the history alive and personal but on its own was not enough to sustain an artistic vision, at least not ours.

Our contemporary experience of the land, the culture, and the religion differs in many ways from the experiences of our aboriginal, African and European ancestors and even from the experiences of our parents. We are no longer isolated. The Internet, mass communication and the mobility of the modern age place us on a world stage. Yet, we are still here. Different, yes, but as we discovered, still providing a vital, rich atmosphere and ground from which we could discover ourselves and our imagery. In the end others will judge how well we succeeded in our challenges which, some may say, we foolishly had the audacity to even attempt.

Maybe, like the music of musicians Zachary Richard and Michael Doucet of Beausoleil, who continue to revitalize Acadian music through innovation and a respect for tradition, the visual artistic expression of the area will take its place on the world stage. That is our hope.

Sky, Mud, and Bones
Statement
EXHIBITION
2000