Heart of Louisiana: Driftwood Art

Heart of Louisiana: Driftwood Art

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - What may look like worthless pieces of driftwood to most of us conjure up images of animals and faces to a folk artist in the Assumption Parish town of Pierre Part. Adam Morales believes he has a gift for bringing driftwood to life at his bayou-side art museum.

At first, it’s hard to figure out what you’re looking at when you pull up to Morales’ house along Bayou Pierre Part. But then the magic of his art comes alive. Statues of swamp people, New York’s twin towers, the Statue of Liberty and Noah’s Ark. And a house full of cypress driftwood animals to fill it.

“This is my best piece in the showroom - a big cypress knee. That’s the baby. That’s the mama. There’s the papa,” Morales said.

On most of the animals, Morales only glues on a pair of eyes. Nature provides the shapes.

“I don’t cut nothing,” he said. “I see the image and I put them together. I call them body parts. See the bird? I see images all over the driftwood. Yeah, I thank God for that. You know, my friends that go in the swamp, all they see is junk, they say, until I pointed it out to them. I'd bring it home and I bring it to life, you know?”

Morales has lived on the bayou all of his life. He has supported himself the same way his parents did, living off the land and the swamp.

“Pick moss, crawfish, turtle, frog and spear fishing,” he said.

Morales considers his home and yard a museum. And you get a free swamp tour.

“This is my swamp guest room,” he said.

Of all the cypress driftwood creations, the favorite is a 15-foot-tall Statue of Liberty.

“I had to find at first a hollow log for the body that was solid, yeah, that was strong. Not rotten and hollow and not too heavy,” Morales said. “It took me about six months. I found one.”

Lady Liberty has stood here for 20 years. But she did get one year off to visit the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

“They had a worldwide show. They had 156 artists worldwide and it won first place,” Morales said.

McNamara: “You've been collecting all this, doing the art for 27 years now?”

Morales: “Yes sir.”

McNamara: “Any idea how much driftwood you've pulled out of the Atchafalaya swamp?” Morales: “A few 18-wheelers full.”

Mcnamara: “And you're still doing it?”

Morales: “No, I didn't go in two years. I didn't have no room to put it.”

Somehow, people from around the world find this place. And Morales enjoys the visitors and their reactions.

“’We can’t go nowhere in the world and see something like this,’ they say. ‘Unique,’ I believe they said. ‘One of a kind.’ I say, ‘Thank you,’” Morales said.

There’s plenty to look at with an artist and tour guide who also likes to have a good time.

“I’m the driftwood man,” Morales said. “This is my cap. That’s my shield, and that’s my sword.”

The driftwood collection and the artist who sees images in the wood’s unusual shapes are truly unique and one of a kind.

There are no set hours at the museum in Pierre Part. But you are welcome to stop by any time and take pictures from the street. And if Adam Morales is there, he’ll gladly show you around.

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