Kenny Hill’s Sculpture Garden, Chauvin Louisiana

We went to *the* most amazing art environment last week. It’s Kenny Hill’s Sculpture Garden, in Chauvin, Louisiana. Except Kenny Hill isn’t around anymore – I mean, he’s alive, but one day, he just got up and left. People think he may be living with his brother, but nobody really knows where he is or what he’s doing now.

Kenny was a bricklayer who moved to Chauvin in 1988 when he left his wife and three children. He put a tent up, then built himself a house, and then in 1990 started making figures out of concrete. At first while he was there working on it, he turned down publicity and wouldn’t let people take pictures. In the late 90s, he talked about wanting people to come experience what he had made.

In January of 2000, he left things as they were – some items are unfinished – and moved on. Just left. The parish had been giving him trouble for the upkeep of his yard (grass/weeds), he quit paying his rent for the land and got evicted, and on top of that, he seemed to have lost his religious conviction. In fact, he went to his sculpture of Jesus and damaged it on purpose. In his house, he left a sign above the kitchen sink that read “hell is here, welcome.”

He just got up and left.

The site has a brochure, and inside it says that Kenny called the garden a ‘story of salvation’. It tells that an art professor once came by and asked Kenny, “is this your vision?”

Kenny answered:
“It’s about living and life and everything I’ve learned.”

Kenny made himself into several of the sculptures. In this one, you can see him being lifted up by angels. Half his face is black and half is white.

It was touching. It really was.

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