The University of Louisiana Monroe landscape will soon have two custom-painted heron statues as part of the local Herons on the Bayou public art project. One has already been installed.
“I have wanted to bring something like this to our community for a while and seeing so many people support this idea gives me so much inspiration,” said Brooke Foy, Herons on the Bayou project coordinator and ULM Assistant Professor of Art. “I wanted to do a community art project where anyone could participate. The herons provided so much creative freedom that it didn’t matter someone’s level of talent. If they could imagine it, they could paint it.”
Herons on the Bayou is the largest public art project in Northeast Louisiana, and began with grant writing in 2017. Thirty-seven artists painted 51 heron statues, each standing 6-to 7-feet tall, which will be placed throughout Monroe and West Monroe.
Foy said this project has been her passion for the past two years. The art professor devoted countless hours to spearheading grant writing, facilitating the creative team, launching project promotions, managing finances, and working with each heron sponsor to find its forever home.
“The artistic talent and the interest in art, especially public art, in Northeast Louisiana is phenomenal. People want art to be part of our life here,” said Foy.
More than 100 artists submitted 250 designs for the project.
One ULM heron, titled “Discombobulation” is already at home in front of Brown Auditorium. It was created by ULM student Katelyn Vaughan. The artist is a 21-year-old Fine Arts major concentrating in painting. Vaughan said that she is inspired by small and intricate designs which led to her original design being selected for the project.
“It was a surprise and a joy to me to have one of my original designs picked that really speaks of me. It makes it even more special. I really think it's important to have art in your community. I hope that the herons bring joy to all,” said Vaughan. Vaughan’s work was sponsored by Dean Dr. John Pratte of the College of Arts, Education, & Sciences.
The second ULM heron, “Fleuty Bird” is by Erica Dean, a local community artist and owner of the Fat Mermaid Tattoo Boutique. Sponsored by the Thomas H. & Mayme P. Scott Foundation, it will be placed near the fountain in Scott Plaza.
“I am very hopeful that this becomes a cool link for ULM to the greater community. I hope that very soon people see this as another way that ULM is supporting the community, the arts and its faculty and staff,” Foy said.
Grant funding was provided by Delta Regional Authority and the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau. Major partners include the city of West Monroe, ULM and the Downtown Arts Alliance. Other partners were the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Downtown West Monroe Revitalization Group, West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce and Monroe Chamber of Commerce.
There were 38 local sponsors and six Herons With Heart were donated to non-profits by the project.