Chestee Harrington

L’Esprit de la Louisiane: Music of the Prairie

This exhibit opened the 1999 FrancoFête, a celebration of 300 years of French influence in Louisiana. After touring the state, it traveled to Texas and Washington, D.C.

Inspired by the music of Southwest Louisiana, L’Espirit de la Louisiane (The Spirit of Louisiana): Music of the Prairie, is another example of Chestee’s transformative multimedia process.
She created 16 woodblocks, each inspired by a song. With these 21-by-14-inch blocks, she created hand-pulled, hand-colored prints. Then, she returned to the blocks, carving them into bas-relief, and completing them with color, stains and glazes.
Chestee conducted extensive research for this series, which highlights songs that have become Cajun standards. These tunes have wide-ranging roots, including traditional French and English ballads, the rhythms of Scotland, Africa and the Caribbean, and of course, the German waltz.
The exhibit includes a four-by-seven-foot oil painting, The Gathering, which depicts the blend of cultures that have contributed to traditional Cajun music: French, Spanish, German, Scotch-Irish, African and Native American.
The series is also accompanied by a book, “L’Esprit de la Louisiane: Music of the Prairie,” written by Christy Lawrence Viviano, and a music CD produced by Al Berard and Christy Lawrence Viviano (Over the Moon Productions Inc. and Garage Recording Studios). Musicians who contributed to the CD include: Philip Allemond, Dexter Ardoin, Morris Ardoin,  Al Berard, Blake Castille, Hadley Castille, Kevin Courville, Julie Landry, Michael Landry, and Bobby Michot.


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