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Lafayette-born renowned artist Vergie Banks doesn’t just revel in the culture of southern Louisiana, she shares it with others and helps them appreciate the unique lifestyle enjoyed in this vibrant corner of the world.
“My designs represent our culture,” says Vergie, whose paintings are often used to promote the region at home and abroad in tourism campaigns. “It’s a great opportunity and an honor to be able to share that culture with the world.”
Looking at her work of Zyde-Cajun musicians jamming, of jazz flowing from brass instruments, of here trademark Creole girl pedaling a tricycle with gusto down a country lane, it’s easy to see the connection with the passionate, colorful Louisiana lifestyle that resonates so strongly with people of all backgrounds.
The wellspring of her work has always been the Creole culture of southern Louisiana. Her inspiration often comes from the region’s jazz and Zyde-Cajun music, embodied in two series of paintings representing those visceral musical genres. The emotional energy flowing from the music influences the colors in her work and some admires say they can even feel the music in the brushstrokes.
Vergie earned a college degree in sculpture and jewelry design in order to diversify the type of art she could create; an important consideration for someone seeking a career in art. Even in her painting, the medium for which she is best known today, there is wide diversity of styles and subjects in the series she creates. This approach has proved extremely successful and now clients collect entire series to display in their homes and businesses.
Her signature series and her most popular body of work, is the Little Red Tricycle series, which portrays a little girl in pigtails on her three-wheeler. “It’s an expression of me, but when others see it they tell me that they see themselves in it,” Vergie says. “It’s a good feeling when people relate to your work like that.”
And the awards and official accolades keep coming. The Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, commissioned her work for posters promoting the region and the state, and selected her as one of only five artists whose work is featured on postcards promoting Louisiana travel. In 2002, Vergie won a Silver Addy award for advertising excellence for her design, “Squeezebox and Scrubboard.” Most recently she was chosen to design the 2003 Louisiana Travel Summit poster, entitled “Fais-do-do”, which commemorates the Louisiana Bicentennial celebration and she also won a Silver Addy award in 2003. In Sept. 2003 & Feb. 2004, Decor magazine featured Vergie as one of the notable African-American artists on the rise. Businesses large and small throughout the region display her work, and some, including Creole restaurants in Lafayette, were actually designed around her work and feature her paintings on their menus and walls.
The growing list of her patrons is full of notable art collectors such as: Entertainers Roberta Flack, Bill Cosby & Cher; Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco; Dr. Antoine Keller; Dr. Elizabeth McBurney of Slidell; Congressman of Columbia Carlos Avellaneda Tracona; Southern University Art Museum; Zigler Museum; Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans; Dunaway’s Olde Towne Market, Slidell; Café Des Amis, Breaux Bridge; Coyote Blues, Lafayette; and Café Roux, Lafayette, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitchell Landrieu, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, Joey Durel Lafayette City Parish Gov., Lafayette SheriffMike Neustrom, Marriott Hotels, New York Central Fire Dept, Lafayette Natural History Museum.