Sculpture garden a folk-art gem in Chauvin
Along the banks of Bayou Petit Caillou in Terrebonne Parish, a lighthouse guides visitors to a treasure of modern American folk art.
The lighthouse, made of 7,000 bricks and decorated with sculptures, is just the beginning of a journey through the world of Kenny Hill, a bricklayer who left behind more than 100 concrete sculptures on his bayou-side property in Chauvin, Louisiana. Ranging in subject from angels, cowboys, God, soldiers, children and Hill himself, the sculptures depict the artist’s spirituality and his struggle with growing personal pain.
Visitors enter the garden by way of a wooden bridge with concrete planks. Along the way, angels invite visitors, or sometimes block their passage.
The sculptor himself appears along the journey several times, giving rare insights into the mind of the reclusive artist. Long-haired and bearded, he stands with a bleeding heart, illustrating his sadness and the battles raging within his mind.
Hill first settled in Chauvin in 1988, living in a tent until he built a small cabin. Two years later, he began a self-proclaimed “story of salvation” for his neighbors. According to the garden’s official website, Hill did not wish to share his art with others. He refused media access to the garden.
In January 2000, Hill was evicted by the parish for not keeping the grass cut on his property. He knocked the head off the statue of Jesus Christ and left on foot. The site was later donated to Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La.
The sculpture garden is open daily from dawn until dusk. For more information, call the Nicholls State University Folk Art Studio at 985-594-2546.