In effort to raise awareness about water quality in The Vermilion Watershed, five local painters joined together to create vibrant, Southern-style art on surface drains in the Lafayette area. Working hand-in-hand with The Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG), these artists were given the opportunity to paint a scene of their choice directly on the drains as part of the Storm Drain Art Project. This project idea was chosen because of its unique way of bringing knowledge to a situation that is currently haunting The Vermilion Watershed, according to Dirk Guidry, the painter of the drain located on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s campus.
“Each drain now displays an important issue in our community through a beautiful and Lafayette-style way,” said Guidry.
Guidry chose a drain located at the cross walk in front of the Dupré Library on campus. This specific drain washes into the St. John Coulee which connects to the Coulee Mine Branch and directly flows into the Vermilion River. Guidry’s work is titled, “CRAWssing the Vermilion” and reenacts the Crossing of the Delaware River. The people are depicted as crawfish holding the Acadiana flag to add some local flair.
“The drain on campus is my absolute favorite,” said Michaela Lindsly, a UL Lafayette junior. “It really shows our culture and adds some fun character to a situation that people should know about. I think that’s an effective way to get people engaged.”
Simone McCrocklin painted “Ticket to the Bayou” on a drain located in the Oil Center; Brittney Pelloquin painted “Rising Water” in Pontiac Point; Marie Duplechien painted “Proteger L’eau de Louisiane” meaning “Protect the Louisiana Water” in Downtown Lafayette; Kristie Mayeaux painted “Sustaining Gaia” at the “Red Roof” LCG Public Works building.
Each of the five chosen drains lead into The Vermilion River (also known as the Bayou Vermilion) through different branches and washes everything into it- litter, waste, chemicals. This means every time it rains in Lafayette, the water flows down the storm drains and eventually ends up in the river carrying the pollutants with it. In attempt to create mindfulness of the issue, the Storm Drain Project created the motto, “only rain down the drain” and hopes the beautiful art stands as a reminder, said Jamie Vargas, Regulatory Compliance Supervisor of the Public Works Department and Environmental Quality. The LCG provides suggestions on what Lafayette residents can do to help improve the issue such as: pick up after pets, bag and compost yard waste, pick up litter, properly dispose of chemicals, wash vehicles over grass areas and plant natives to reduce runoff.
The Storm Drain Art Project was funded by the LCG Environmental Quality and awarded each location painter $500 with the exception of $400 to the Public Works location. Sherwin Williams donated the paint for all five artists.