Nicholls Receives Grant from Ruth Arts to Restore Chauvin Sculpture Garden 

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University Foundation is a recipient of $75,000 from the Ruth DeYoung Kohler Legacy Fund to repair the Chauvin Sculpture Garden. The landmark was damaged during Hurricane Ida with gusts as high as 150 miles per hour sweeping through the Chauvin area. The RDK Legacy Fund will help support the Garden’s restoration efforts.

“We are delighted to receive support from Ruth Arts with their generous and substantial donation. We plan to use the funds in on-going efforts to repair and restore the garden to its original state before it suffered damage due to Hurricane Ida. The funds will also be used for our continuous commitment to keep the garden open for visitors with alternating exhibits on display every weekend, and of course our annual Chauvin Folk Art Festival in April,” said R.E. Miller Endowed Professor of Honors Studies and Director of the Center for Bayou Studies Dr. Gary LaFleur.

“This generous donation is a fervent reminder that Nicholls has an international reputation for helping rescue, restore and maintain the world-renown visionary art of Kenny Hill that can be viewed at the Chauvin Sculpture Garden. The Chauvin Sculpture Garden has helped to put Nicholls on the map within Louisiana, across the nation and across the globe as a university that is committed to conservation and interpretation of visionary folk art.”

About Chauvin Sculpture Garden & Nicholls State University Art Studio

The garden was originally owned by Kenny Hill who began transforming his home’s bayou environment into a garden, housing more than 100 concrete sculptures with one of the most prominent pieces being a 45-foot-tall lighthouse composed of 7,000 bricks. Hill never publicized his work and eventually abandoned his work in early 2000. The site was then gifted to Nicholls.

Owned by Nicholls State University and open to the public since 2002, the Chauvin Sculpture Garden is home to the Nicholls State University Art Studio, gifted by the Kohler Foundation. The mission of the Chauvin Sculpture Garden and Nicholls Art Studio is to educate the public on the value of Folk Art and its importance in the world of visual arts.

The studio and site preserves and protects the creative works of Kenny Hill and displays the work of contemporary artists in the 1,000 square foot exhibition space. Permanent collections of the Nicholls Art Studio include paintings, photographs, sculpture and pottery created by local artists. The studio also contains a functioning darkroom. Books, local artwork and other souvenirs are for sale on site.

The Chauvin Sculpture Garden is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Nicholls Art Studio is free and open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the Nicholls State University Division of Art at (985) 448-4597. To learn more, visit

About Ruth DeYoung Kohler Legacy Fund

Ruth Arts announced a new grant introducing the Ruth DeYoung Kohler Legacy Fund, mirroring the support Ruth DeYoung Kohler made to arts institutions throughout her lifetime. Ruth DeYoung Kohler II (1941-2020) was deeply committed to artists and consequently, broke down hierarchies and categories within the art world to center artists, support communities and engage with overlooked art forms.

Distributed in the fall, the RDK Legacy Fund is dedicated to honoring and continuing Ruth DeYoung Kohler’s steadfast support of regional and craft-based organizations and artist-built environments. The Fund will provide $2.5 million annually across 40 organizations historically supported by Ruth DeYoung Kohler II.

“These programs are at once forward-facing and anchored in Ruth DeYoung Kohler II’s inimitable legacy,” says Executive Director for Ruth Arts Karen Patterson. “We’re proud to honor Ruth’s lifelong commitment to the arts by continuing to fund the organizations she personally supported and to develop new programs in her spirit of experimentation and community-building.”

About Ruth Arts

Ruth Arts is a new grantmaker based in the Midwest dedicated to meeting the evolving needs and lived experiences of artists, communities and arts organizations whose work is anchored by visual arts, performing arts and arts education.

Based in Milwaukee and national in scope, the Foundation reflects the culture and spirit of the Midwest, which long inspired its namesake and benefactor Ruth DeYoung Kohler II. Led by Executive Director Karen Patterson, as well as Program Directors Kim Nguyen and Rachel Reichert, the Foundation is a responsive and adventurous new force in the realm of arts philanthropy.

Consideration for future grant cycles will continue on an invitation-only basis as Ruth Arts grows and develops. Additional programs currently under development will be announced in the coming year. For more information about the Foundation’s grants and programming, please visit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 14, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Jerad David, Director of Communications, 985.448.4303 or