Melodia haunted Breaux. The place of his great-grandfather’s childhood adventures is now a cemetery of fallen cypress walls topped by rusty tin.
Breaux knew he’d one day want to preserve the site through representation in his work. The time finally presented itself in Prospect.3+Baton Rouge with “Dwelling.”
The three sculptures he’s built in the LSU Museum of Art’s J.D. and Patsy R. Lyle Lobby are interpretations of the dilapidated structures in the photographs Breaux snapped on his first visit to Melodia in 2010.
The photos also hang in the lobby to round out the museum’s contribution to Prospect.3+Baton Rouge, the capital region’s extension of the international contemporary art biennial, Prospect.3 New Orleans.
Baton Rouge’s citywide celebration features art installments, exhibitions, film screenings and live events in 15 venues through Jan. 25, coordinated by emerging arts organization Elevator Projects, with support from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.
Breaux says “Dwelling” is “an investigation of the relationship between the natural world that the oceans, rivers and estuaries have shaped and the fabricated order that we impose upon what is left for our use.”
The sculpture is made up of three No. 2 grade pine structures covered in Japanese paper. Breaux is a printmaker. He printed a pecky cypress wood grain on the paper to represent the cypress grain on the old Melodia buildings.
After that, he tore the paper into strips, then covered them in wax, which created a transparent effect. The wax also connected the strips, which cover the wooden structures.
“This is my first attempt at sculpture,” Breaux says. “But it’s great, because I’m able to incorporate printmaking into the piece.”
Breaux’s parents are from Baton Rouge, but his dad relocated to Florida for a job. The family would return to Baton Rouge on holidays to visit his grandparents.
That’s when Breaux heard about Melodia, where his great-great-grandfather was overseer.
Breaux’s great-grandfather became a successful surveyor; his uncle was an engineer. The two formed a company that designed several subdivisions in Baton Rouge.
“But when my great-grandfather would tell me about Melodia, it was like this mythical place,” Breaux says. “So, when I came to New Orleans, I made a trip there.”
Breaux’s artistic journey took a few detours before ending in his family’s home state. He left Florida to study under Costa Vavagiakis at the Art Students League of New York, then moved to Savannah, Georgia, to earn his bachelor of fine arts degree in printmaking from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
From there, it was to Madison, Wisconsin, where he volunteered his time at Tandem Press. He moved to New Orleans in the summer of 2010 to attend graduate school at Tulane University, where he earned his master of fine arts degree in 2012.