George Rodrigue Foundation Of The Arts’ ‘Monsters, Myths And Legends’ To Award $45K In Scholarships

George Rodrigue’s self-portrait (2013)

Artist George Rodrigue’s mom was a piece of work. When little George didn’t behave, she used to say, “If you’re not good today, the loup-garou will eat you tonight!”

The fear of being devoured by this legendary Cajun werewolf stuck with the young boy from New Iberia, Louisiana, and the theme eventually catapulted Rodrigue (1944-2013) to artistic acclaim with his multiple interpretations of the elusive loup-garou that launched his lucrative Blue Dog series.

The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization emphasizing the importance of the arts in the development of our youth, is banking on the theme of “Monsters, Myths and Legends” to pay off for other young artists, and is awarding $45,000 in college scholarships to Louisiana high school juniors and seniors for its ninth annual art contest.

Organizers said they encourage students to explore their own regional folklore like Rodrigue did, but also welcome them to create unique monsters, myths or legends through their own art and imagination.

Entries are being accepted through Jan. 19, and a group of 15 finalists will share $45,000 in college scholarships. Following the Scholarship Awards Luncheon on March 24, at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, the 15 winning entries will go on tour for one year and be exhibited at museums and cultural venues across Louisiana including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (New Orleans), the R.W. Norton Art Gallery (Shreveport), the Imperial Calcasieu Museum (Lake Charles), the Shaw Center for the Arts (Baton Rouge), the Alexandria Museum of Art, and the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum (Lafayette).

“We invite all Louisiana high school juniors and seniors to reimagine their favorite monster, myth or legend and translate them to canvas,” said Rodrigue’s son Jacques Rodrigue, executive director, George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts. “We look forward to all the creative submissions.”

The 2018 Art Contest is sponsored by the Louisiana Education Loan Authority, Cox Communications, Sheraton Hotel New Orleans and the Jones Walker Law Firm.

Since George Rodrigue founded this annual statewide art contest in 2009, the GRFA has received 4,200 entries from across Louisiana and awarded 140 students a combined $364,500 in college scholarships.

GRFA and Louisiana A+ (LAA+) Schools are also working with Wendy Rodrigue, Rodrigue’s widow, to tour 18 LAA+ Schools throughout the state. At each school, members of the school board, parents, students, teachers, administrators and community partners will be invited to attend unveilings of a 2013 self-portrait by Rodrigue, plus Wendy will visit classrooms with a small display of original artwork from Rodrigue’s archives.

“George and I visited a lot of schools together, engaging with students through art demonstrations and discussions; and it took time for me to reenvision these experiences without him,” said Wendy. “It was one student last year, who asked me what he looked like, that inspired me to provide George’s self-portrait to LAA+ Schools so that students would see him according to his own artistic interpretation. This fine art print is produced from the original file, using the same quality paper and ink that George used in 2013.”

In the 2013 self-portrait, Rodrigue reveals how he saw himself during the last year of his life. Shown embracing the computer as he would a paintbrush, Rodrigue pieced together photography and painting into a collage-type digital artwork, manipulating color, tone and design to create a unique original portrait epitomizing his mature artistic style, reps said.

“Sixty years later I still paint the way I felt as a child,” Rodrigue said about his artistic process. “I emphasize to students how important it is to retain that innocence, and that it’s okay to create art in this way.”

Wendy will visit two schools in New Orleans to share her late husband’s legacy: the Martin Behrman Academy of Creative Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 10:00 a.m., and the Homer A. Plessy Community School on Friday, Dec. 1, at 8:15 a.m.

“Touring LAA+ Schools is a natural for me as a way to further honor George Rodrigue,” said Wendy. “He believed, as do I, in arts integration in all aspects of life, especially education, which is why the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts has supported LAA+ Schools from the beginning.”

“I believe that Mr. George Rodrigue would be very proud of the commitment to innovative learning and the importance of implementing the arts into every aspect of the classroom as demonstrated in LAA+ Schools,” said Bethany France, executive director, LAA+ Schools.

LAA+ Schools is the first whole school arts-integrated reform initiative of its kind to enter Louisiana, and its network provides teachers with the essentials to think more creatively about how students can apply learning to the real world, and how they can present curricula to students in ways they learn best, reps said.

Any Louisiana school (public, private, charter, urban, suburban, rural, PreK3 through 12) can apply to be a member of the LAA+ School network here.

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