Last I wrote of the Thibodeaux sculpture, in the summer of 2015, I had just taken the design to a self-standing “V”, like two 6’x8′ panels connected at one end, and the other end open enough for people to walk into and read about the artifacts on the outer side. I told you about the two archaeological insets I designed into each side, one representing an excavation from the French Acadian side of the Thibodeaux family’s heritage, and the other representing the African side. To catch up on the story of the Thibodeaux excavation and the sculpture that grew from the artifacts found there, go to The Thibodeaux Sculpture So Far. To catch up on the Thibodeaux family’s remarkable history, go to Thelesphore Thibodeaux, a family hero.
This will not be a long post because I must report, with great sadness, that the writing of this story and the progress on the sculpture itself, as well as my visits to my friends in Breaux Bridge whose history and land I took such joy in researching, came to a halt in the summer of 2016, the year after I last wrote of it, when the crash of the oil and gas business that was my husband’s livelihood caught up to us. My studio space was needed for other purposes, and the assemblage got dismantled, packed and stored for two years. I packed it in such a way, however, as to allow access to segments of it, one at a time, as well as the materials and tools needed to work on them. Through 3 difficult years of hard labor, betrayal, and depression, during which my marriage and my future in New Orleans disintegrated, sanity periodically dictated that I take respite in my beloved Thibodeaux sculpture and the memories of a magical time that fell into my lap so unexpectedly when I met the Thibodeaux family. And I managed to bring it further along.
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Below is how it looks so far, though it is not in position. In position, as described above, the two big, multi-box walls would be placed roughly back to back, open at one end into a “V” people could walk into, and closed at the other end by a self-standing center column. , and standing about 6′ apart at the other end, like a “V”, allowing people to walk inside through the top of the “V” and read, on the back of each box, the identity and significance of the artifacts inside it.
Boxed sections represent categories of findings; sometimes by location (which room it represented) or occupation (farmer, soldier, cook) or signature cultural feature (coffee, garconniere) or gender/age identity (man, woman, child), but sometimes just because of artistic shape or color grouping (spigots, sugar cane).
In the summer of 2019, a moving van pickedthe sculpture was carefully packed, and along with my 3 cats, some 40 bushes transplanted from my wonderful garden, and everything I own, including family pieces, heirlooms, photos and documents chronicling my family’s 250 years in French and Spanish Louisiana, I said goodbye to New Orleans and moved to Oregon where the last of my remaining family is.
Now, summer of 2020, it sits in storage. It’s quite possible it may never see its intended public destination, in the Breaux Bridge library where the Creole people of St Martin Parish, with their uniquely mixed racial and cultural heritage, could enjoy this tribute to one of their own, Thelesphore Thibodeaux, and his parents Onesime and Elizabeth Thibodeaux. But before the Thibodeaux assemblage was packed, a photo portrait was done of each section, and in that form, at the very least, I can put it online where far more Thibodeauxs and Louisiana Creoles, no matter where they are, can see it than if it were in a single physical location.
Several posts will follow that explain each section. To the steadfast readers of this remarkable story, it’s been a bumpy ride waiting for it, I know. Your patience has meant more than you know.