“You’re French! Why would you call yourself Cajun?”
They are a people defined not only by their history, but also by the land that supports them, by the Louisiana oak trees and the bayous. He painted them filled with symbolism, floating like ghosts, timeless, and glowing with their culture.
When he speaks of his Cajun paintings, George almost always focuses on their American roots — roots of the art, the artist and the subjects:
“Even though the Cajuns spoke French, once they reached America they became, over the next one hundred years, truly Americanized. They were in a country with freedom of religion and freedom of speech, neither of which they experienced as the British moved into Nova Scotia. In America they became liberated, and they started to appreciate the concept that they were Americans. The 4th of July became a big event in their lives because it was an expression of the flag and nationalism.”
“West of Lafayette, near Crowley and Jennings, the land is flat. This was the beginning of the prairies that slowly moved geographically towards Texas. It was the perfect land for raising cattle, and in the late nineteenth century the Cajun cowboys drove their herds north through Shreveport and into Arkansas and Oklahoma to the railroad, to be sold and shipped up east.”
Even today, it is these three aspects of American culture that fascinate him the most, as evidenced by our yearly cross-country drives and his obsession with the West. (For more, see the posts Crossing West Texas and America the Beautiful)
(1983, 60×36, for more on this and similar portraits visit here)
(For the story of this painting, Victory on Bayou St. John, 2009, 78×130, visit here)