‘This Same Dusty Road — Huckaby exhibit opens at Historic City Hall

Published 4:03 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

Letitia Huckaby melds photography, softly worn vintage fabrics, old quilts, faith, family, culture and social commentary like some people link words to create compelling stories that make the past spring to life. The story is all her own, but highly relatable. That’s the draw of the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center newest exhibit, “Letitia Huckaby: This Same Dusty Road” opens today.

“Often times the work reminds viewers of a family member, a familiar space or a time in their youth,” Letitia Huckaby said.

Huckaby was born in Germany. Her father was in the military. Her mother was born, raised and has moved back to southern Louisiana, near Baton Rouge, after the death of Huckaby’s father. Fifty-year-old Huckaby currently lives in North Texas with her husband Sedrick, who is also an artist, and their children Rising Sun, Halle Lujah and Rhema Rain.

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Much of the work in “The Same Dusty Road” is influenced by images ingrained in Huckaby’s mind when the family made trips to this area as she was growing up…a field of white goats…a moss-covered oak in the midst of a junkyard. She romanticized Louisiana. Transferring these memorable images to vintage fabrics allows her to layer in even more history. Most bodies of work take a couple of years, she said.

“I usually start with the photography and then decide how I want to display the images. Printing on plain white cotton fabric, vintage or heirloom fabrics, vintage feed sacks, framed or quilted? All those choices add to the time.”

The show is curated by the LSU Museum of Art.

Through heirloom fabrics, traditional hand-quilting techniques, and photography, Huckaby mines the legacy of her family—particularly the matriarchs—connecting and confronting past and present inequities.

“The south to me, feels like a world all its own. My Louisiana family, for the most part, live on the land, very close to each other, so the places I frequent when visiting family seem stuck in time.”

She explores the Black experience and the shifts in that experience, what’s changed and what has stayed the same.

“In ‘Cotton Pests and Diabetes,’ I am making a comparison between how diabetes ravages the African American community and a cotton field after it has been harvested. The magenta-colored images are microscopic tissue that has been affected by diabetes. Peppered throughout the quilt are images of boll weevils at different life stages. My father lost his battle with diabetes, and it’s a huge problem for our community that seems to maintain its negative impact.”

Huckaby holds an MFA in Photography from the University of North Texas, a BFA in Photography from the University of Boston at Lesley, and a BA in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Okla.

“I think moving to Boston and paying my own way changed everything,” Huckaby said. “That’s where I found my voice. I realized that if I set my mind to something, I could make it happen. I worked full time at the Limited in Copley Mall and I went to school full time. I worked stock, so it wasn’t emotionally draining work and I could mentally focus on my school work. I had left a position as a promotions coordinator for a radio station in Oklahoma. That’s where my parents were living; it was my dad’s last duty station and where he had retired from the military.”

Huckaby’s work is part of the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont, the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection at Scripps College in Claremont, California, the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the City of Fort Worth at Ella Mae Shamblee Branch Library and the City of Dallas at the Highland Hills Branch Library. She has exhibited at the Dallas Contemporary, Galveston Arts Center, and the McKenna Museum in New Orleans and been in residence with the Gee’s Bend Quilters and Brandywine.

“This Same Dusty Road” will be on view at the center through March 27.

While visiting, be sure to see “Flamenco: From Spain to the U.S.” Passionate, fiery, and intense, this exhibit follows the journey of flamenco from fifteenth and sixteenth century Spain to its arrival in the U.S. and its rise as an international art form now enjoyed by millions; Black Heritage Gallery’s “Ether Art” featuring the fine art of Taurean “Tory” Bush and “Full of Lights” a group show in Gallery By The Lake,  also opens today.

Historic City Hall is located at 1001 Ryan St. and has resumed normal business hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Charlestown Farmers’ Market is open on Bilbo Street behind the center every Saturday 8 a.m.-noon. For more information, call 491-9147 or visit www.cityoflakecharles.com.