Living Ind

Through the Grinder

by R. Reese Fuller

A downtown Lafayette arts expo seeks to gain exposure for "nontraditional" artists and help restock the shelves of the Cameron Parish Public Library.

"It's a blending, a grinding of all these different things coming together," says Kody Chamberlain of Grinder: Creative Arts Expo. "It's basically an expo for nontraditional art, all this stuff that normally wouldn't appear in a gallery."

A local graphics artist himself, Chamberlain will be joined Feb. 28 at 307 Downtown by other artists who create comic books, jewelry, sculpture, T-shirts, posters, photography, animation, and writing to display their talents and sell their wares. "It's a bit of a mixed bag," he says.

While artists man 40 different tables, others will be wielding paint brushes to create what Chamberlain calls "live art." Four pieces will be created that evening and auctioned to help raise money for a graphic novel collection for the Cameron Parish Public Library. "They're pretty excited about getting hooked up on that," he says, "because we're able to fill a void that's last to get filled."

Cameron Library Director Charlotte Trosclair was just beginning to expand the fledgling graphic novel section before Hurricane Rita. "It's a wonderful opportunity to maybe start that section again," she says. "It wasn't something I prioritized after the hurricane. The main thing was trying to get restored." Fortunately, with help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Cameron Parish Library is operating at full capacity with new materials and two temporary sites, but not much of a graphic novel collection.

Chamberlain says in addition to the four pieces to be auctioned, the artists collectively will create a final piece for permanent display at 307 Downtown. "It should be really cool, man."

Grinder: Creative Arts Expo is a smoke-free event and will take place Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 307 Downtown in Lafayette. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $3 at the door, and donations of graphic novels will be accepted at the door. An auction of art begins at 10:30 p.m., with a grand finale piece to be created, beginning around midnight. For more information, visit