Cheré Dastugue Coen
The Odd Bayou Art of Kenny Hill
The following is an excerpt from “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana” by Cheré Coen (The History Press)
Bricklayer Kenny Hill settled in the small bayou town of Chauvin in 1988, erecting a tent on a bayou-side lot while he built his home.
Then in 1990 he started creating pieces of concrete sculptures throughout the property, mainly those with a religious tone or a Biblical reference.
There are angels and other celestial figures, a 45-foot-tall lighthouse made up of 7,000 bricks, cowboys, soldiers and the artist himself, sometimes expressing a conflict between good and evil. Hill didn’t create these folk art pieces to share with others. He called his work a “story of salvation,” according to Nichols State University, which now owns the property, although by the year 2000 when he was evicted for not keeping the grass and weeds down, he was dismayed by religion and reportedly knocked the head of Jesus off a statue when he left.
The Kohler Foundation purchased the property, which has been gifted to Nichols State in Thibodaux and is now the Chauvin Sculpture Garden and Art Studio.
The site at 5337 Bayouside Drive is open to the public from dawn to dusk but the NSU Folk Art Studio’s hours vary; call 985-594-2546 or the Nicholls State University Division of Art at 985-448-4597.
Note: Docent-led tours are offered on the weekend or by appointment.