- Associated Press
Saturday, April 17, 2021

MONROE, La. (AP) - Thirty-six new Herons on the Bayou were unveiled last weekend at Bayou Park on the University of Louisiana Monroe campus.

Brooke Foy, who teaches at ULM and created the community art project, thanked local people and the organization who have helped with the project, including sponsors, artists and people who help weld, seal the paint jobs and install the pieces around the community.

The designs were inspired by the Great Blue Herons that are native to the area, and the project links local artists with businesses willing to invest in art.

A wonderful aspect of this project, she said, is that the community has reached out and gotten involved. She said she’s meeting artists she never knew before the herons, and that’s a great thing.

Two Herons with Heart are going to local nonprofit groups - Grace Place and the Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Museum.


Julia Sweeney decided to paint a heron after her students at Sterlington High School pointed out that she’d developed it as a lesson plan for them, but she had not painted her own yet.

During the fall election season, she quickly designed a patriotic bird with freehanded stars and stripes.

The family of Matthew Cameron had the option to choose a heron to honor his memory from donated funds, and they chose Sweeney’s design.

Cameron was a founding member of Downtown Monroe Renaissance. The director of strategy and business development for CenturyLink also served in numerous leadership roles at local nonprofits and in state leadership.

Patricia Cameron said her husband was passionate about shopping for American-made goods. He and his friends blogged about it and launched “We Shop American” at the American Legion building. (It’s also where his heron will be placed.)

Sweeney said when she started painting the blank body, free handing it wasn’t coming as easily. Painting a heron is hard work.

She read Matthew’s obituary and inspired by his own words about himself: “I am one of the crazy ones, the misfits…the rebels…the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the one who sees things differently. I am not fond of rules, and have no patience for the status quo.”

She painted a heart with his name on the frame and words that were important to him around the heron’s body. Once the project was dedicated to him, Sweeney said, the work flowed.

She needed the connection.


The first round of 51 Herons on the Bayou was unveiled in 2019, and the art installation draws interest around the parish.

“Heron Hunts” were designed with the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau as a fun activity for local residents and tourists visiting the area.

Herons on the Bayou launched with a grant from the Delta Regional Authority to create “creative placemaking” - something that uniquely brands a community. A second grant was obtained through the Downtown Arts Alliance for the first wave, and the DRA is the agent for this leg of the project.

Foy said the sponsorships will help fund arts in education and more public art projects.

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