White Linen Night on Bayou Black

Will Smith has spent at least a year preparing for this show, each oil on canvas painting taking two to three months to complete. He wanted to document the fragile way of life in coastal Louisiana, where the land dissipates into soggy marshes. Smith took swamp tours of the Atchafalaya River basin, Bayou Black and Bayou Terrebonne, and took around 1,000 photos. He narrowed down the best scenes. The resulting 16 paintings make up “White Linen Night on Bayou Black,” which opened on August 5, 2017. Smith said he tediously detailed daily life in the swamp to achieve a “poem meets police report” style. “I’m trying to be as accurate as possible.” After he saw the damage Hurricane Katrina wreaked on the coasts, Smith said the impact lit the fire for him to document, visit and explore more of the swamps. “It’s beautiful but fragile,” Smith said.