Nicholls to Use Grant and Partnership to Enhance Chauvin Sculpture Garden

Students and volunteers plant native Louisiana irises along the walkway of the Chauvin Sculpture Garden.

THIBODAUX, La. — The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area (ANHA) has awarded Nicholls State University $10,000 to augment the Chauvin Sculpture Garden and Art Studio.

The university will use the money to install several new park benches and reinforce the wooden walkway in such a manner that it can withstand the sun and salt of a coastal environment.

Additionally, a group of Nicholls physiology students worked with the LA Iris Conservation Initiative to beautify the paths along the sculpture garden walkways. Together with members of the Friends of the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, they planted 300 native irises around the property.

Dr. Gary Lafleur, director of the Center for Bayou Studies, said by maintaining the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, Nicholls confirms its commitment to being the university that is closest to the coast, not only in its physical footprint but also in its devotion to the residents and communities and traditions of the Louisiana Coast. 

“Nicholls is invested in preserving, studying and helping to support the lifeways of the many coastal communities. That includes the substantial group of towns that lie across the southern reaches of Terrebonne Parish,” he said. “The garden is not just for art-enthusiasts. We use it as a facility to train students in art conservation and art interpretation. It can be used as a site for biology projects demonstrating plants that beautify while stabilizing bayou banks. It is also a valuable site to study the cultures of the coast, the ancient traditions of Louisiana fishing families and how coastal communities are responding to the highest amount of coastal land loss on earth.”

Once the home of Kenny Hill, the sculpture garden and art studio features over 100 concrete structures crafted by Hill during the decade he lived there. The land was gifted to Nicholls and opened to the public in 2002. The sculpture garden is open from dawn until dusk every day, and the art studio is open on weekends.

“The Chauvin Sculpture Garden is one of the rare elements at Nicholls that is a totally exclusive asset,” Dr. Lafleur said. “No other university in Louisiana has this type of environmental art installation by a world-renowned visionary artist.”

Established in 2006, the AHNA stretches across 14 parishes in south-central Louisiana. The program offers grants to support its partners within their region in reaching the objectives of the organization. Those objectives include any activity that captures or benefits area traditions, customs, beliefs, history, folklore, lifeways, natural resources and local wildlife.

“Having the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area recognize the work that we are doing in Terrebonne Parish is very rewarding,” Dr. Lafleur said. “By awarding this grant they are confirming to us that Nicholls is making a positive impact on preservation.”

For more information on the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, visit

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