Each year, the Louisiana Book Festival contracts 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 case.
Oddlokken’s artwork was chosen for a good reason – she created her own genre, made of stitched threads on paper.
“Backgrounds are handmade, stitched paper substrates with stitched images and collage elements, then embellished with meters of hand-stitched gold thread – the symbol of the lifeline that unites us all,” she said. “The circled eyes symbolize the enchanted creatures and people who 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 idea is a recurring image in his written series called 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, the black-chinned hummingbird and the blue heron represent. The cotton cycle represents life itself.
Oddlokken describes his work as always using symbolic and allegorical fables and combining the native flora and fauna of southern Louisiana, as well as physical elements such as aboveground cemeteries and graves. She said she also pushes and pulls characters from Cajun and Voodoo folk tales such as Feu Follet, Loup Garou and Voodoo Queens.
“My whole childhood was filled with my aunt’s everyday magical creations, such as baby birds leaving Juicy Fruit gum on the windowsill and a child named Toots who lived in the huge pear tree right outside our screen door,” said Oddlokken. “Life was filled with magic and wonder. It was with a blend of my own childhood memories, Catholic references, Cajun folklore and a pinch of New Orleans voodoo that I created my Tiny series, Little Fables.
The written series was how Oddlokken initially caught the interest of the state 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 contacted her to participate as an author, but after Hurricane Ida Oddlokken, the publication plan was suspended while she was rebuilding her home. . When the book project was temporarily shelved, she accepted the offer to join the festival as an annual artist.
His work will reside in the art archives of the Louisiana State Library.
“It’s really, really exciting to be a part of Louisiana history as part of the state archives,” she said.
In addition to the Louisiana Book Festival, Oddlokken is currently presenting a solo exhibition at the Baton Rouge Gallery – Center for Contemporary Arts. This work is titled “Louisiana Oracles” and will continue until October 29. She exhibits regularly across the United States and has represented Louisiana at ArtFields – a showcase of the Southeast’s finest artists. She will have a solo exhibition at the Pensacola Museum of Art in March 2023.
For more information about Offlokken and his work, visit https://threadpaperglue.com.