art & shadows 2014-2015
About the Arts & Shadows Program
This work was created for the Art & Shadows program, a yearlong pilot project that provided studio space for visual artist Lynda Frese and musician David Greely at the Shadows-on-the-Teche, a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in New Iberia, LA.
Supported by grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Endowment for the Arts, its goal was to demonstrate how innovative arts programming at historic sites can enhance their role as community assets and increase cultural and economic impacts in their neighborhoods and regions.
Art & Shadows Artist Statement
Through 21st century eyes, the series Art & Shadows interprets the 19th and 20th century history of a sugar cane plantation and its families in south Louisiana. In these constructed images, connections between the layers of history, memory and the natural world are uncovered.
I began this project as an artist-in-residence by reading documents and books about the era, and looking at the collection of photographs and papers spanning the 19th and 20th century at Shadows-on-the-Teche, an extraordinary property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in New Iberia, Louisiana. Selected images from the archives were combined with my own photographs of interior domestic spaces, household objects, and textiles—from embellished gowns to slave clothing.
Near the end of the Civil War, Yankee soldiers bivouacked at the Shadows while the owner Mary Weeks was still living in the upper quarters where she soon passed away. Because of these circumstances, the contents of the house were somehow left intact in the chaotic aftermath of the war. Ephemera—things that were meant to be discarded or used up—were preserved in pristine condition. Pottery shards, coal and children’s marbles were later excavated from the soil under the demolished slave quarters.
The final owner of the Shadows, Weeks Hall, bequeathed the property and its historical collections to the National Trust in 1958: it was the first Gulf South site. He is seen as an elderly man with his pet bunny in the work Keepsakes, along with his numerous travel trunks, early snaps and a poetry book with a lock of hair.