By Nick BeJeaux
Silas Breaux spent only part of his childhood in Baton Rouge, but the artist’s family roots run deep in the city. His new body of multimedia work, Dwelling, will be installed in the LSU Museum of Arts next week, exploring those old roots in a very modern way.
Now an adjunct professor at Tulane and a printmaker by trade, Breaux is in the process of creating this unique body of work created specifically for this installation by blending, photography, print and sculpture
“What we were most impressed by in his proposal is that he was combining what are often three very distinct media – sculpture, print, and photography – and combining them in a very unique way,” said Dr. Katie Pfohl, Curator of the LSU MOA. “He’s thinking about the paper as a skin for the armatures, and I think it’s going to be very beautiful. Also, we’re going to be showing in the exhibition the pieces on which the later pieces were based and walk them through the process Silas went through to create these pieces.”
The installation will be open to the public on Saturday, Nov. 15 in the Museum’s entrance at 4 p.m. Essentially, Breaux’s pieces are print-based sculpture. He built the enormous wooden armatures – the longest is about 14 feet – that will be mounted on the walls and ceilings of the space. Those armatures will be covered with prints on Japanese rice paper of photographs he took of the remains of his great grandfather’s childhood home: Melodia Plantation, just outside of Kenner.
“It’s really an incredible project on how the history of South Louisiana continues to inform the present,” said Pfohl. “It really introduces the modern and sleek architecture of the Shaw Center to the past, so we’re really excited to host it here”
Pfohl said in an interview with DIG that Breaux’s placement of the armatures in the entrance is deliberate – painstakingly designed as to immerse admirers of his work within the work itself.
“They’re going to be installed very unexpectedly,” she said. “Silas is working on a larger piece that will actually wrap around the concrete column, and one will be hung over the elevators – just in very surprising places around the lobby. My sense is that it’s going to create a very immersive environment. And in a way it’s like time travel. Here we are in a modern space and surrounded by the past. I think it’s going very new and interesting for people to experience.”
Breaux was chosen from a pool of 20 artists as part of the Love Local Art contest, which was funded by an MOA Kickstarter campaign. However, this installation is a national opportunity for Breaux and his work, not just a local one. Prospect New Orleans, which is the largest biennial exhibition of modern art in the United States, is branching out to Baton Rouge. Dwelling will be its first local exhibit.
“I’ve only been here for a few months, and as a new curator I really wanted the museum to be a part of this,” said Pfohl. “So we came up with the idea for the contest to invite artists from the greater Baton Rouge region to propose an installation for our entrance. Also, in addition to not having any artists on the books, we also had no money for it! So we decided to launch a Kickstarter and ask for the community to fund the project. Not only did me meet our goals, but we exceeded them. We needed around $2,000 to make this happen, and I think we raised somewhere around $2,300.”
To honor Prospect Baton Rouge, the Museum has decided to offer free admission to the museum from Nov. 14 to 16. The reception celebrating Dwelling on Nov. 15 will also be open to the public.