Kenny Hill’s Garden of Salvation in the bayous of Louisiana

Garden of Salvation – Kenny Hill

5337 Bayouside Drive
Chauvin, LA
Concrete environment
Restored/preserved  –  Open to the public

Other than the fact that Kenny Hill was a bricklayer, little is known about his life. One day in 1990, on a rented piece of property along the bayou in Chauvin, Louisiana, Kenny began to create a concrete self-portrait. In less than 10 years, he created over 100 primarily religious sculptures and a 45-foot brick lighthouse adorned with cowboys, soldiers, musicians, angels, God, and Kenny.

The garden features perfectly balanced soaring angels of all types: black, white, male and female, lifting lost souls, beckoning or barring passage. There are angels holding horns, and angels with sand clocks, angels with swords, and angels playing harps, and then more angels after that. There’s Christ on the cross, and the Gates of Heaven. There are lost souls, world-weary people, and there are self-portraits of Kenny, along the path at various stages. And, as you might expect, there are the Gates of Hell, as a reminder of the wrong path.

Kenny was adamant that the work was done for himself: he felt no need to share it; it was the “story of salvation.” When asked about the vision behind his art, he simply replied, “It’s about living and life and everything I’ve learned.”

In January 2000, evicted by the parish for not cutting his grass and weeds, Kenny Hill knocked the head off the sculpture of Jesus, then left on foot. He has not been heard from since. The site survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and is being restored by Nicholls State University with a gift from the Kohler Foundation.

Find this site and others with the iPhone app, “Best Road Trip Ever!”

(Photos © copyright 2006-2013 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)

Bibliography & Links:

“Detour Art—Outsider, Folk Art, and Visionary Folk Art Environments Coast to Coast, Art and Photographs from the Collection of Kelly Ludwig” by Kelly Ludwig, Kansas City Star Books, 2007.

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.

“Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations” (the book), by Randy Mason, Michael Murphy and Don Mayberger, Kansas City Star Publishing, 2002.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Southern Flavor”, KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 1999-2001.

Kohler Foundation