Vandals hit Louisiana sculpture garden by self-taught artist

July 27, 2022 GMT

CHAUVIN, La. (AP) — Authorities in south-central Louisiana are looking for those responsible for vandalizing the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, a local landmark created by a self-taught artist.

Three concrete sculptures were broken, and one is missing, said Gary LaFleur, head of the Center for Bayou Studies at Nicholls State University.

“The one that hurts everybody’s feelings the most is this sculpture of a little girl, kind of sweet. We call her ‘Girl in White Dress,’” he said. The vandals tipped the statue onto the grass, but the only part broken was where it was mounted, so he was able to put the girl back in place.

A concrete sculpture known as “Waterfall Girl” also was damaged, caretakers told TheCourier.

“That one looked the most violent, in a way. It looked like they took a sledgehammer and just popped her as hard as they could,” LaFleur said. “They broke a leg and she came down.”

Vandals also damaged a sculpture of an angel that held an amber globe, similar to how the Statue of Liberty holds its torch.

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The garden owned by Nicholls State was created by self-taught artist Kenny Hill when he moved to Chauvin in 1988. A bricklayer by trade, Hill created more than 100 concrete statues along Bayou Little Caillou in Terrebonne Parish before walking away from his home about a decade later. He left no trace of his whereabouts, but about 10,000 visitors each year visit the menagerie of angels, Cajuns, self portraits and other figures he left behind.

Some artwork by Nicholls students is also displayed at the garden, and a seahorse on a long metal pole is the missing piece. Made of composite metal, it weighs about 100 pounds (45 kilograms).

Artists had been working to repair damage Hurricane Ida inflicted on the sculpture garden last August. LaFleur believes the vandalism occurred between July 11 and July 15 and caused about $23,000 worth of additional damage. The Terrebonne Sheriff’s Office is investigating.