Inner necessity

Do you believe hardship breed’s artistic creativity? Albert Einstein once said, “the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” 

In creating her art, visiting artist Joli Livaudais explores the relationships between people and the constructs we use to interpret the world around us. Her exhibition Dreams and replies, is housed in Dunbar Gallery located on Hutchinson Street in Grambling

The photographic compositions are inspired by her unconscious mind, through journaled dreams and free writing.

“They are my meditations on a universe and existence that is exquisitely beautiful, perfectly synchronized, and uncompromisingly merciless,” said Livaudais

“I find that my carefully weighed conclusions about the human condition challenged me more than they provide any meaningful sense of safety, comfort, or promise of a happy ending.” 

Donna McGee, associate professor of art, says Livaudais work is a search for personal understanding and answers to questions about life, origins, and what we are supposed to do with our lives.

“All people play a role in the collective whole of life from birth through death and beyond,” McGee said. “This is how I see her work.”

Born in Chicago, Livaudais spent her childhood moving from one state to another due to her father’s job as a quality control engineer for nuclear power plants. They eventually ended up in Baton Rouge where she finished high school. 

She received her B.A. and M.S. in experimental psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington before establishing herself as a freelance commercial photographer in Dallas. 

Upon graduation, she joined the Army to challenge herself and did an eight-month tour in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Desert Storm. Stationed just behind the front line, she was assigned to the Signal Corps to support the Army’s First Cavalry engineers. 

“It was dirty, long and hard,” she says, looking back over those months. “But I learned what I’m capable of in tough situations.”

In 2004 she moved to Northeast Louisiana and was hired by one of Monroe’s most prominent advertising firms, Newcomer, Morris & Young, as their senior photographer.

“Working at NMY gave me the opportunity to meet many of our region’s most creative designers, and to get to know Monroe at it’s best,” she said.

In 2008, she opened Livaudais Studio, a photography studio and fine art gallery. She  and her husband, Jason, renovated a late-19th-century commercial row building on South Grand Street backing up to the Ouachita River in downtown Monroe. 

The comfortable old storefront, which housed numerous businesses over the years, including Mexican and Chinese restaurants, is now their studio, art gallery and home. Jason is a graphic designer with a local advertising firm. 

Livaudais also co-founded and is serving a third term as secretary of the Downtown Arts Alliance, a not-for-profit collection of artists and galleries that host the bi-monthly Monroe Downtown Gallery Crawl. 

Livaudais received her M.F.A  from Louisiana Tech University in 2013, and is currently an adjunct professor there.

Livaudais will present a public lecture that gives insight into her working processes and the concepts behind her work. The lecture will be held in Grambling Hall Auditorium from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 7. A reception for her will be held after the lecture from 4:30- 6:00 p.m. in Dunbar gallery.