Dig Baton Rouge


By Nick BeJeaux

BUILD THE FIRE (bɪld ðə fayər)


Bringing to life that which you’d like to see in the world; fulfilling a personal initiative.


Monthly exhibition were Baton Rouge artists display, build, and celebrate one another’s personal Fire through the curating of Fine Arts.

To address the problems of destructive social paradigms, divisive social programming, and a lack of interest in the arts, local artists of all mediums have created a monthly exhibition to connect, collaborate and educate: Build the Fire.

On May 28th, the Arts Council of Baton Rouge will host the third Build the Fire exhibition. Spoken word poets, photographers, jewelry designers, filmographers and even independent video game developers are some of the many kinds of artists showcasing their work at the exhibition. Original creations will also be on sale.

“It’s a hub for visual and performing arts of any kind,” said Luke St. John McKnight, founder of BTF and a composer of literature, stage, screenwriting and music. “We celebrate the process of creating what you want to see in this world – there’s no discrimination against any creative art here.”

While Louisiana stands apart from the rest of the U.S. with a unique history and culture unlike any other, the arts struggle here as they do anywhere else.

“It’s extremely difficult to maintain and sustain a career as an artist in Louisiana,” said McKnight. “On a daily basis it’s a challenge to make money, find appropriate gigs or even be taken seriously.”

McKnight says that BTF was created to help artists through that struggle, that they may continue to create and add to the culture of Louisiana.

“If we don’t build some type of platform for artists to start connecting with crowds, other artists, mentors or patrons of the arts it will be hard, even a burden, for the artists to pursue their work in Louisiana as the essential tennant in progressive culture that it is.”

“If we enable emerging artists to connect with fans, other artists and mentors, then we build the internal capacity of the Louisiana arts scene.”

While it was created as a means of enhancing the artistic culture of the state, McKnight also believes BTF can help change the social culture as well.

“As a society, we habitually place more importance on attaining higher social statuses and acquiring material possessions than we do developing the higher faculties of our mind or finding solace in appreciating and nurturing our own self image,” he said.

“If we help artists convince the inquiring populace of the value of the value the artists’ work contains, then we allow for new opportunities for peer-to-peer learning that shines light on outdated methods of thought and behavior.”

The two previous incarnations of BTF were held in the local wine lounge Who’s Who, but the exhibition has exploded to the point that space is too small, prompting the move to the Art Council’s building on Laurel Street.

“It’s picked up more momentum and more people,” he said.

The doors open at 7 p.m. with a $5 admission. Open mic, raffle giveaways, free tunes by D.j. Automatik and guaranteed “good spirits and vivid times” are included.



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