I first read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline in 2017. Longfellow's tale written in 1874 would become a lasting legacy and a gift to the Acadian people. It would forever give them a sense of identity and help define the plight of the Acadians to the rest of the world.
While Evangeline is a fictitious character possibly based on a real person. She is perceived as an iconic and allegorical figure to the Acadians for her qualities of steadfastness, fortitude, strength, devotion and love.
Shaking his head, as in doubt; then, heaving a sigh, he continued:- "Louisbourg is not forgotten nor Beauséjour, nor Port Royal".
This painting is my third study using the same props. I wanted to create a full-circle moment by returning Evangeline to her homeland of Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia. The Evangeline Well was discovered by treasure hunters at the end of the 19th century. It is located directly to the right of the commemorative church in Grand-Pré. My previous two paintings had ginger-ale inside the bottle. For this rendition, I decided to leave the bottle empty, as if returning to the well to fill it with water and as a means of symbolism and for what Grand-Pré and Évangéline represents to the Acadians which for many, also serves as a pilgrimage site. A bust of Longfellow is located about 50 meters from the well. The Grand-Pré historic site was established in 1908 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
The exhibition "Evangeline, Evolution of an Icon", organized by the West Baton Rouge Museum, provides a glimpse into Evangeline’s evolving status from her inception through today as a legend and heroine, to a brand image and celebrity, and ultimately into a cultural icon. Inspiring writers, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs, Evangeline has appeared in many guises. Along the way, her image morphed from that of a demure Victorian-era maiden into a confident modern woman. This exhibition includes artworks by Canadian and Louisiana artists, including François Gaudet, Rémi Belliveau, Mario Doucette, Alvin Richard, Melissa Bonin, and George Rodrigue among several others as well as artifacts and paraphernalia to demonstrate Evangeline’s transformation and her timeless appeal. The exhibit opens Saturday, May 15 and runs through October 31st.
The West Baton Rouge Museum is located at 845 N Jefferson Ave, Port Allen, Louisiana,United States. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday- 10 am to 4:30pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm
Suggested reading with beautifully mounted video done by the CBC for the 100th anniversary of the Evangeline statue also featuring François Gaudet, one of the artists taking part in the exhibition which I had a good fortune of meeting during our visit in Grand-Pré- click on this LINK to view.