Mark Charleville is a multimedia artist living in Bossier Parish,
Louisiana. He has over twenty years experience producing graphics in
broadcast and print. He also produces drawings and paintings in
traditional media, having shown throughout Louisiana. He has work at
The Blue Moon Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
He has taught college level art, worked in the oil fields of Louisiana,
built maps and charts for oil companies and universities, has drawn
illustrations for archeologists, produced videos, and volunteered for The
Nature Conservancy. He has traveled to Costa Rica, Peru, Venezuela and
Mark was born in Port Allen, Louisiana. He has lived in various
Louisiana communities; Livonia, Natchitoches, Lafayette and now lives
with his wife, Lilly Daigle on a bluff on Red River outside Benton, La.
Land of The Blue
In South Louisiana a unique cultural event is occurring. Many Catholic
communities honor The Virgin Mother, yet no other community celebrates
the image of The Virgin as do the people of South Louisiana. Statues of
The Virgin Mary have long been associated with hidden gardens, flowers,
and healing plants, yet in Louisiana this icon of The Virgin has become
A traveler in the bayou land will notice blue clad virgins along the
roadways. These Virgin statues, no longer confined to secret gardens,
proudly guard the front yards of the region. Why are people displaying
the Virgin Mother in this manner? Italians tell stories of The Virgin
protecting homes from storms and gulf winds. A devastating fire ravaged
New Orleans in 1812. The nuns of the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans
placed a statue of Mary in a window of the convent and were miraculously
spared. The people of Pierre Part built an island shrine of The Virgin
Mary after the town was spared from a hurricane. The Virgin Mary has been
known as the protectress of Christians since ancient times, but what is
the reason for the abundance of these statues in this area?
The statues have become an integral part of the landscape with
explanation, story or belief explaining The Blue Virgins. The images
shown are a combination of these statues and visions of the landscape in
which they reside.
Originally, each print is a photograph digitally enhanced with color
and montage elements and then printed by a digital ink jet printing
process known as "Gicl'ee."The resulting images have a soft, almost
velvety appearance of texture, which immediately suggests the mists and
fogs of the bayou setting as well as the dreamlike quality of a vision or
What is equally fascinating about this collection, however, is the
realism of the individual statues. The variety of the pieces in material,
style and execution is remarkable, as well as the occasional
architectural settings in shrines or niches. The state of preservation
also claims attention, ranging from brand-new unpainted through various
stages of wear-and-tear to downright neglect.
In Charleville's state-of-the-art technology, he gives us a sensitive
overview of cultural and religious custom fairly wide spread in the
French-speaking areas of Louisiana.
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