Hilliard Brings Beauty and Conversation to Lafayette this Spring with Thoughtful Dialogues

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LAFAYETTE, La (press release) – Hilliard Art Museum, newly accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), offers the community a robust line of programming this spring, including new exhibitions, a half-day symposium, an immersive “creative conversation” and the annual book sale.

The museum also is expanding its reach beyond the Hilliard. Two of its exhibitions are now on loan to other museums in Monroe, LA and Winston-Salem, NC., and a book about the Envisioning the South: The Roger Houston Ogden Collection, currently on view at Hilliard, will be published in March.



DATE: Saturday, Feb. 11 – 9  a.m. – noon

Join us for a half-day symposium presented in partnership with the National World War II Museum on the exhibition, Tom Lea, LIFE and World War II. Presentations include:

  • Session 1: “The War in Which He Worked” John Curatola, National WWII Museum presents overview of Pacific War

  • Session 2: “Entering Combat and Claire Chennault” Steph Hennershitz, National WWII Museum interviews Nell Chennault

  • Session 3: “Tom Lea the Artist and Man: The War and the West” Panel discussion among Mac Greeley and Adair Margo, moderated by Jamey Clement

  • Session 4: “Personal Reflections of a Marine in the Pacific” Paul Hilliard, WWII veteran


DATE: Wednesday, Feb. 15 – 6 p.m.

Artist Brian Schneider discusses Be Still, a light installation on the façade of the Hilliard Art Museum. Guests will enjoy the opportunity to contemplate and meditate together on the messages projected as Psalm 46:10 is progressively unveiled.


DATE: Saturday, Feb. 4 – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Members-Only Preview Sale on Friday, Feb. 3 – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

It’s time for the annual book sale in the James W. Bean store at the Hilliard Art Museum!

  • 20-60% off select books

  • 30% off select merchandise

  • Free exhibition poster with your purchase

  • Local authors available to sign books

  • Start your shopping now for Valentine’s Day, birthdays and graduation!


A. Hays Town and the Architectural Image of Louisiana

On Loan to the Masur Museum in Monroe, LA

DATE: May 25 – Aug. 5, 2023

Hays Town (1903-2005) is perhaps the widest recognized and most beloved of Louisiana architects working in the twentieth century. The Hilliard Art Museum is the proud inheritor and custodian of Town’s iconic Art Center for Southwestern Louisiana (1968), which the Hilliard adjoins on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus. In honor of the half-centenary of the Art Center’s opening to the public, and its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hilliard organized a wide-ranging exhibition of Town’s work.

Town practiced architecture for more than 70 years and was remarkably prolific, designing educational, office, commercial, and public buildings, as well as residences. The Hilliard’s exhibition, however, focuses on the historic sources and popular success of his residential architecture, which he undertook almost exclusively after 1960. Indeed, his design for the Art Center referred directly to an early 19th c. Louisiana landmark residence—the main or “master” house of the Hermitage Plantation in Ascension Parish near Darrow. Taking the long view of his career, we now understand that the Art Center definitively marks his turn toward a practice dedicated to residential design and one inspired, in particular, by the colonial, vernacular architecture of Louisiana and, more generally, of the American Southeast.

A 200-page publication with an essay by curator, Carol McMichael Reese, Ph.D. and color photography by Philip Gould accompanies the exhibition.

Vitus Shell: ‘Bout It ‘Bout It, The Political Power of Just Being

On Loan to SECCA (Wiston-Salem, NC)

DATE: Feb. 2 – June 18, 2023

Portraiture as a genre holds a grand position within the history of art and has for centuries been employed to glorify White monarchs, leaders, icons, and religious figures. Louisiana-based artist Vitus Shell creates portraits that challenge this tradition, while also sharing a concern for the historical representation of Black bodies. For example, the composition of his portraits includes faux gold gilding and oval or circular picture windows—stylistic trends often found in Byzantine and Renaissance portraiture to indicate power, status, and the eternal. Shell also rejects the convention of framing his works. Instead, his canvases hang in an ad-hoc manner with grommets, boasting waves and slightly curled edges. The presentation implies a quickly wheat-pasted handbill for a trendy nightclub or a banner at a protest rally.

Perhaps more importantly, Shell’s sitters are familiar and members of his community. He portrays his sitters as self-possessed, questioning individuals, whose humanity shines. Those depicted dominate the foreground and serve as a counterpoint to a background of collaged newspaper articles and advertisements filled with bigoted or misunderstood accounts of Black American life. The aspirational, thoughtful body language, rendered with authenticity by Shell, stands in stark contrast to the flat, colorless, and stereotype-ridden caricatures of Black bodies found in the largely historical sources he uses for his backgrounds. Presenting his portraits in this fashion empowers his sitters, and by association the Black American community, to reject limited two-dimensional depictions of themselves for ones in which they are interlocutors with their past and present struggles, while being in dialogue with the American Dream on their terms.


Envisioning the South: The Roger Houston Ogden Collection

Essays by Benjamin M. Hickey and John R. Kemp

Retail price: $29.95

This publication will document the exhibition Envisioning the South: The Roger Houston Ogden Collection presented at the Hilliard Art Museum – University of Louisiana at Lafayette from January 20 – August 19, 2023 including reproductions of approximately fifty works of art from Mr. Ogden’s private art collection.

Roger Houston Ogden is the foremost collector of Southern Art and founder of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.

This book will relay the collector’s journey from his first purchase of a painting by renowned landscape artist, Alexander Drysdale to his turn toward abstraction inspired by the work of artist Ida Kohlmeyer, and then to photography with the acquisition of work by Clarence John Laughlin. Ogden’s collection is undeniably important in that it has come to define Southern art.

Museum Hours, Admission & General Information

The Hilliard Art Museum is located at 710 E. Saint Mary Blvd. on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday. For general information, please visit HillliardMuseum.org or call 337-482-2278.

Categories: Acadiana, Lagniappe