Each year the Louisiana Book Festival engages with a Louisiana artist to provide the artwork for the event, and this year St. Rose resident Nonney Oddlokken created “Magic in the Bayou Atheneum” especially for the affair.
Oddlokken’s work of art was chosen for great reason – she has created her own genre, which is comprised of stitched thread on paper.
“The backgrounds are handmade, stitched paper substrates with stitched imagery and collage elements, then embellished with yards of hand stitched gold thread – the symbol of the life-line that ties us all together,” she said. “The encircled eyes symbolize the enchanted creatures and people that live among us.”
In “Magic in the Bayou Atheneum,” an alligator queen stands atop a stack of books in an iris-filled bayou with two white alligators.
“Alligators are the unicorns of the swamps,” Oddlokken said, adding that that idea is a recurring image in her written series entitled Tiny, Little Fables. “She holds open a book that contains all the magic, beauty, knowledge, and dreams that literacy and books can bring into our lives, which the white egrets, black chin hummingbird, and blue heron represent. The cycle of cotton represents life itself.”
Oddlokken describes her artwork as always using symbolic, allegorical fables and combining the indigenous flora and fauna of southern Louisiana, as well as physical elements such as above ground cemeteries and tombs. She said she also pushes and pulls on Cajun and Voodoo folktale characters such as Feu Follet, Loup Garou, and Voodoo Queens.
“My entire childhood was filled with my aunt’s daily magical creations, such as baby birds leaving Juicy Fruit gum at the windowsill and a child named Toots who lived in the huge pear tree just outside our screen door,” Oddlokken said. “Life was filled with magic and wonder. It is with a mixture of my own childhood memories, Catholic references, Cajun folklore, and a sprinkle of New Orleans Voodoo that I’ve created my series Tiny, Little Fables.”
The written series was how Oddlokken initially drew the interest of the state’s Book Festival. She was quoted in an art article as saying that her first book would be published in the winter of 2021. The festival reached out to her about participating as an author, but after Hurricane Ida Oddlokken’s publishing plan was put on hold as she rebuilt her home. When the book plan was temporarily shelved, she accepted the offer to join the festival as the annual artist.
Her work will reside in the Louisiana State Library Art Archive.
“It’s really, truly exciting to be a part of Louisiana history as part of the state archive,” she said.
In addition to the Louisiana Book Festival, Oddlokken currently has a solo exhibition at the Baton Rouge Gallery – Center for Contemporary Arts. That work is entitled “Louisiana Oracles” and will run through Oct 29. She exhibits regularly throughout the United States, and has represented Louisiana in ArtFields – a showcases of the Southeast’s top artists. She will have a solo exhibition at the Pensacola Museum of Art in March of 2023.
For more information about Offlokken and her work, visit https://threadpaperglue.com.
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