Featured Year of the Rural Arts Event: Le Feu et l’Eau (Fire and Water) Rural Arts Celebration, Arnaudville, LA

This building has been home to the NUNU Arts Collective since 2010.
Photo from NuNuCollective.org

By Louise Vasher

Arnaudville, Louisiana sits at the junction of Bayou Teche and Bayou Fuselier in the heart of the Acadania region. Each year in early December, the town hosts Le Feu et L’Eau, or Fire and Water, a Rural Arts Celebration named for the initial event’s signature feature of floating fires. Organized by NUNU Arts Collective and hosted in the Collective’s 5,000 square ft. facility, the Rural Arts Celebration underscores the community of 1,400’sFrench Louisiana culture and features area artists and craftsmen, regional music, and free cultural demonstrations.

Promotional Le Feu et l’Eau Rural Arts Celebration Video

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, local painter and Arnaudville native George Marks recognized an opportunity to revitalize his struggling community. He aimed to accomplish this through interweaving local arts and cultural assets to create businesses and boost Arnaudville’s economy. Towards this goal, the NUNU Arts Collective designed a multistep process of identifying existing cultural assets, connecting businesses to the arts, developing art commerce, and finally creating recurring arts and culture events. Le Feu et L’Eau Rural Arts Celebration has become the most iconic of these annual events. As a result, the Collective’s impact extends far beyond the arts: they strive to connect businesses, artists, organizations, and citizens; encourage local knowledge and skill sharing; and aim to enliven the small Louisiana community through celebration of their own identity and assets.

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Le Feu et l’Eau Rural Arts Celebration 2014 Event Poster

Le Feu et L’Eau initially featured the work of visual artists, and now celebrates a myriad of art and culture. In their tenth year, the Celebration featured three stages of music, with performances ranging from the traditional French music of Byron Boudreaux’s Pot Luck Jam to the Americana tunes of The Specklers. Meanwhile, downtown Arnaudville displayed a screening of short films from students and faculty of the University of Louisiana Lafayette Moving Image Arts program. The festival’s expanded visual arts displays include two-dimensional works as well as pottery, glass blowing, and iron works.

music

A local band performs on one of three stages featured at the expansive NuNu Collective facility.

Jacqueline Cochran of NUNU Arts Collective characterized the highlights of Le Feu et L’Eau 2014 to include the dusk lighting of bonfires by “Fire Maiden” and dancer Jeri Brown and the topping of five mosaic columns with the first Louisiana architecturally-inspired birdhouse. Other community favorites included public art pieces by Opelousas artist Michelle Fontenot as part of an ongoing Louisiane-Bretagne art exchange, titled, “Gone with the Birds,” which uses arts and cultural production to address a metaphor: a tiny home for birds helps to build dialog and promote community cohesion.

couche couche demo

A demonstration of how to make couche couche, an old-time Cajun breakfast of fried cornmeal mush

For more information about the Le Feu et l’Eau Rural Arts Celebration and Arnaudville, LA please visit:http://www.fireandwaterfestival.org, and for more information about the NUNU Arts Collective please visit: http://www.nunucollective.org/. Check out the Le Feu et l’Eau Rural Arts Celebration story on the Atlas of Rural Arts and Culture, and report back to us at Art of the Rural to tell us about your experience! Mark your calendars, and make plans to attend this fantastic event towards the end of next year. Please use the social media hash tag #ruralarts in any social media posts from the event.

Year small

THE YEAR OF THE RURAL ARTS is a biennial program of events, conversations, and online features celebrating the diverse, vital ways in which rural arts and culture contribute to American life. The Year is coordinated by Art of the Rural and organized by a collective of individuals, organizations, and communities from rural and urban locales across the nation. The inaugural Year is a collaborative, grassroots effort designed to build steam over the course of 2014, this article is the final addition to the series. For more information on the Year of the Rural Arts 2014, visit: www.artoftherural.org.

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