With billboards lining the nation’s highways and interstates, the family behind Lamar Companies is no stranger to advertising. What sisters-in-law Jennifer and Winifred Reilly personally advertise, however, stands out in a different way.

Both women throw their support behind projects and exhibitions at the LSU Museum of Art. Winifred shared that she believes the museum makes a vital contribution to Baton Rouge’s culture.

“As an artist myself, I believe that art can be a powerful force for progress and social change, and that the LSU museum is doing a lot to advance and enhance life in Baton Rouge, both for artists and the community at large,” she said.

This season, Winifred is supporting two exhibitions that she says have helped push forward the state of contemporary art in Baton Rouge.

Friends from White Hills Elementary learn about movements through Leroy Neiman's art. Photo by Andrea Laborde Barbier
Friends from White Hills Elementary learn about movements through Leroy Neiman’s art. Photo by Andrea Laborde Barbier

Rooted Communities: The Art of Nari Ward is the result of the Harlem-based artist’s one-year residency as the Nadine Carter Russell Chair at the College of Art + Design. “I supported this project because there are not many opportunities for people in Baton Rouge to be exposed to an artist of Ward’s caliber,” she explained.

LSU Professor Kelli Scott Kelley’s Accalia and the Swamp Monster reflects on both Louisiana and her personal history by drawing from folklore and fairy tales. Winifred explained, “[Kelley] is an important example of a Baton Rouge-based artist doing groundbreaking contemporary art projects that demonstrate the great potential for contemporary art in Baton Rouge.”

Jennifer is passionate about developing excellent educational opportunities for children. ArtWorks is an innovative museum/school-based arts program that provides students and faculty at White Hills Elementary with a free, creative, integrated arts initiative.

“I am a big believer in arts education,” Jennifer said, explaining, “Children develop the ability to think critically and to express themselves effectively through the arts. We all need spiritual and creative experiences to develop as a whole people.”

The program, led by Lucy Perera, the museum’s coordinator of school and community programs, began last school year. During one week each month, children learn art vocabulary and visual skills. Perera said they will track the children’s progress over the years to determine how learning about the arts has affected other parts of their education.

“I believe that LSU’s ArtWorks is not only giving children creative learning opportunities,” Jennifer shared, “but is building a partnership that will result in many ripples for students and for our community for many years to come.”

White Hills Elementary pre-kindergarten students learn about the use of color in art at the LSU Museum of Art. Photo by Andrea Laborde Barbier
White Hills Elementary pre-kindergarten students learn about the use of color in art at the LSU Museum of Art. Photo by Andrea Laborde Barbier

Published in Cornerstone Winter and Spring 2015.