Acadiana students win art scholarship |  Entertainment/Life

The George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts in early March announced 13 finalists in its annual art and songwriting competition, which included three students from the Acadiana region.

The three include Emerson Pontiff, of Lafayette, “Simple But Extraordinary Breakfast,” Madaline Kennemer, of Youngsville, “Pizazz of Jazz” and Aoife Davoren, of Grand Coteau, “Si Dur D’etre Seul.”

The 13 finalists from across Louisiana will share a $25,000 scholarship awarded by GFRA.

GRFA’s theme for this year’s competition was Hidden Histories: Uncovering Louisiana’s Untold Stories. The foundation asked students to create music or paintings that depict stories that are untold or rare.

Madaline Kennemer “Pizazz of Jazz”

Kennemer, 16, is a junior at Southside High in Youngsville. Her piece explores the history of the Preservation Hall in New Orleans.

Kennemer never intended for her work to be entered into a competition, she said. The piece began as an art project for school. When her art teacher saw what she created, she pushed Kennemer to enter the competition.

The now world-famous storage hall officially began around the 1950s during a turbulent Jim Crow era in Louisiana. The venue hosted notable artists such as Billie Pierce, who helped popularize jazz in the 1920s to George Lewis and Punch Miller.

While the characters depicted in her work are fictional, they stand in place for New Orleans locals and artists who may have played there, Kennemer said.

“The storage hall is such a cultural thing down here,” Kennemer said, “I think they don’t pay too much attention to it, but it brought so many different cultures and races together during the time of segregation. [The woman] in fact no one is specific. I just wanted a mix of race and culture clearly depicted.”

Preservation Hall played an important role in the Civil Rights Era in Louisiana and despite the rampant racism that existed in the Jim Crow Era South, the venue existed as a place where black and white people could play and enjoy music together , Kennemer said.

Kennemer said her biggest inspiration is her art teacher in elementary and middle school, who always pushed her to explore her creative side, she said. When she was younger, she competed in classroom art contests, and while it wasn’t for a scholarship, she said she won a lot of candy for her early work. She said she never expected to win this race.

“Oh my god, I was actually in my English class and my jaw dropped, I wasn’t expecting it [to win]. I’ve never entered an art competition before.”

Kennemer said she wants to go to college for architecture while also continuing her visual work.

Aoife Davoren “How Hard To Be Alone”

Davoren, 18, is a student at Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Coteau. Her piece tells the tragic story of the grandfather of Zydeco, Amédé Ardoin.

Davoren grew up involved in the arts world, she said. Her father is a musician and her mother is a dancer. Her parents moved to the Acadiana region because of its deep cultural history and music scene.

“I grew up around a lot of creative and artistic people. I always knew I wanted to be an artist since I was three years old,” Davoren said.

Musicians inspire Davoren’s artwork more than anything else, she said. This inspiration appears in her work “Si Dur D’etre Seul”, which tells the brutal story of Ardoin.

The story goes that Ardoin performed a show in Eunice, Louisiana around 1939, she said. During the performance he asked for a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his face. When a white woman gave him one, a group of white men beat him to within inches of his life.

“She was a white man’s house daughter,” said Davoren, “The audience took that as an insult. They targeted him after the performance and beat him to the side of the road and he was left in a ditch. He survived, but mentally he wasn’t the same. He was in a mental home for three years and passed away. It’s a heartbreaking story.”

Her father inspired her to cover the topic, she said. She said his connections in the Zydeco and Cajun music scene allowed him to talk to people who continue to keep his story alive.

The piece includes real handkerchiefs in it, she said. Davoren said it shows how trivial objects like a piece of cloth can spark such horrific acts. The piece is named after one of Ardoin’s songs. She listened to his music throughout the two weeks it took her to make the piece, and Si Dur D’etre Seul stuck with her the most, she said.

While the piece focuses on Ardoin’s death, it should also be seen as a celebration of his life and role in Zydeco music, she said.

Davoren was a finalist in last year’s GRFA competition, she said. The foundation is a great way to inspire artists and provide opportunities for young artists to have their artwork seen.

“It really opened my eyes to what you can do as an artist,” Davoren said of last year’s competition, “I’m so glad I was selected as a finalist because without it I don’t think I would be at the level. the art in which I am now”.

Davoren said she has applied to art schools in Chicago and New York City, where she hopes to study studio art, graphic design and advertising.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *