If you’re a returning user, you may have noticed our new look. As a Tourist Commission we call ourselves a DMO, a fancy acronym for “destination marketing organization,” but really, we are in the business of storytelling. We wanted a logo that could tell our tale, a place with a long history of cultivators, music makers, and a “gumbo” of ethnicities and cultural identities. So, we hired the right woman for the job, local artist, Megan Barra.
Megan is an award-winning designer who’s also well known for her elegant silk compositions. You can find her work in a variety of mediums including album covers, books, catalogs, and company logos. We wanted to know more about Megan as an artist and her inspiration for the St. Landry Parish logo, so we invited her to participate in a brief interview. You can see Megan’s conversation with our communications manager, Caitlin Bussey, below.
CB: Looking at your work, it’s clear that you that you are influenced by your culture and natural landscapes? Is there something about rural Louisiana that inspires you as an artist?
MB: Yes, music and the men and women who play it, along with the Louisiana landscape, provide rich material to draw from in my work. I collect images of accordions and fiddles along with crabs, snakes and coffee cups and fashion them into silk patchworks of Louisiana culture.
CB: Can you explain the concept of the new St. Landry Parish logo for readers? Also, why was the accordion chosen to represent St. Landry Parish as a destination?
MB: As the birthplace of Créole and Zydeco music, the image of the accordion is a visual reference to St. Landry Parish’s musical heritage – and not just Créole, but Cajun too. I like to think of St. Landry Parish as a place where you can find ‘Cajun Spirit and Créole Soul.’ The bellows of the accordion are formed by les haricots (green beans) and the orange and brown colors reference the land and the sweet potato.
CB: We are very happy with our new logo, but we are also big fans of your quilted artwork. Could you briefly describe to our readers, the process involved in making your silk compositions?
MB: After sketching out a design, each piece is cut from silk, sometimes imprinted with original text and images, hand-sewn and then finished on a 1901 Singer treadle sewing machine.
CB: All of your silk compositions are beautiful, but one of our favorites features Amédé Ardoin. What inspired this piece, and could you briefly talk about the symbolism in the imagery?
MB: “Les Blues d’Amédé Ardoin” is filled with references to the Créole musician (1898–1942) who lived and played in Eunice. Along with a reproduction of the only known photograph of him, the piece includes symbols of Ardoin’s life and work, including a lemon, which he carried to refresh his throat when he sang, and an image of a flour sack to represent the sack in which the musician carried his accordion. I printed on silk a map of St. Landry and Evangeline parishes where he performed and the lyrics to the song “Two Step de Eunice.” In the top right, a lone white square represents the handkerchief that was lent to him by a young woman to wipe his brow when he played at a house party.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know Megan Barra. You can see several of her silk compositions at the St. Landry Parish Visitor Center now, until October 29, 2018. In this exhibit, you will also find photography by Lucius Fontenot from the collection, Mémoire de la Boue. Lucius has captured several captivating moments for us in St. Landry Parish, which is why we’ve also invited him to participate.
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