The Swamp Witch

Various Artists

In a city famous for ghost stories, there was one that stood out for Maurice DuQuesnay. “No
vampires, decadent Creole families, no mad New Orleans women. It is a story of moral triumph,
springing up from the hot banquettes of the city” said DuQuesnay of the swamp witch tale told
to him as a boy, growing up in New Orleans. That strong impression stayed with him as a UL
English professor and inspired George Rodrigue, at DuQuesnay’s suggestion, to paint a series on
ghost stories of Louisiana, some taken from Jeanne deLavigne’s “Ghost Stories of Old New
Orleans.” Ironically, the swamp witch tale was not among Rodrigue’s paintings, due to time
limitations.
This July that omission will be rectified with a 20-artist exhibition at Basin Arts, all devoted to
the tale that DuQuesnay described as “urban legend about the ghosts of white deer and a
saintly witch or sorceress who haunts the swamps of Lake Maurepas.” DuQuesnay noted that
participating artists were screened for “moral and intellectual vision” and “originality” as well as
technique. Those artists include some of the most renowned in Acadiana: Francis Pavy, Robert
Dafford and Lynda Frese, as well as New Orleans Voodoo Priestess Sallie Ann Glassman, poets
David Middleton and Martha Serpas, and novelist Elizabeth Nell Dubus, among others. The
show is the culmination of more than thirty years of DuQuesnay’s efforts, brought to fruition
with the help of curators Jonathon Ahhee and Stevi Latiolais.