Louisiana has a complicated relationship with its plantation past. To bring a bit of the past into the present, the LSU Museum of Art presents “Dwelling” an installation based on the state’s homestead affair.
Earlier this year, the LSU Museum of Art held the Love Local Art contest. It encouraged local artists to create an installation as a part of Prospect New Orleans, the largest biennial exhibition of contemporary art in America. The museum received submissions of ideas for photographs, found objects, paintings and other art mediums.
The museum used Kickstarter to fund the creation of the winner’s work. Of the $2,000 raised, half went to the winner as a prize and the other toward materials for the installation.
The winner of the contest and creator of “Dwelling,” Silas Breaux traveled back to the home of his late great-grandfather located in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The Melodia Plantation — now abandoned and dilapidated — served as the inspiration for Breaux’s installation. He took photographs of his late grandfather’s home and printed on Japanese rice paper and coated with a thick wax to create texture and replicate the condition of the plantation on a small scale.
“Dwelling” is Breaux’s first attempt at a three-dimensional sculpture piece. He wanted to create a piece that showed Louisiana’s present is heavily influenced by its past.
LSU Museum of Art curator Katie Pfohl said she was initially skeptical of taking a chance on featuring an unknown artist in the museum. After hearing Breaux’s idea and viewing the pieces, she is confident that “Dwelling” will stir up a necessary conversation.
“Our society is somewhat haunted by the events of the people before us,” Pfohl said. “We try to forget a part of us that shapes our society.”
The exhibit will sit in the museum’s grand entrance in an unconventional way. Instead of the normal gallery setup where pieces flow from one to another, the installations are placed all around the entryway including above the exit sign and protruding from the walls. Pfohl characterizes this exhibit as an immersive experience for the artist and those in attendance.
“We really wanted the artists to be thinking about the Baton Rouge area when designing their pieces,” Pfohl said. “Silas created something that the whole community could connect with.”
The museum hopes that “Dwelling” will be the first of many successful experiments. Pfohl has already begun planning the next local artist exhibition through Kickstarter. Usually, museums plan their exhibits one to three years in advance but “Dwelling” was created in less than two months with a minimal budget.
Pfohl said the most rewarding part of “Dwellng” is the community involvement. The exhibit was completely funded by the donations from Louisiana residents.
“There’s something about involving people that makes a project a more immersive experience for everyone,” Pfohl said. “Finding a way to connect multiple generations through art is a rare gift.”
When: Saturday, Nov. 15 at 4 p.m.
Where: LSU Museum of Art - 100 Lafayette St. Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Price: Free All Weekend, Free for LSU Students with proof of I.D., $12 for non-member adults.