Albert "Al" LaVergne,
was born in and raised in rural Duralde, just northeast
of Basile. The son of Honora LaVergne and his wife Eva
Mclntyre, Al was the fifth of eleven children.
His childhood was spent on a
farm on which his father worked as a sharecropper.
His first exposure
to steel work
when he accompanied his father to the local blacksmith shop.
There he watched the blacksmith sharpen and repair the farm implements.
Those sparks from the blacksmith's hammer may have kindled his
artistic curiosity for today he is a nationally renowned steel
sculptor and art professor.
At the age of 12, Al was diagnosed with tuberculosis
and was hospitalized for a year. Much of the time, he drew to
Most of the members of his family could draw. "It was something
that we all enjoyed doing," Al says, but as his brothers
and sister grew older, they stopped; but he never did.
Southern University in Baton Rouge after graduating from Basile's
W. W. Stewart High School in 1964.
At Southern, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art. Later
he received a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts from the
University of California at Berkeley. He returned to Baton Rouge
to accept a position on Southern University's faculty and is now
Professor of Art at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan,
where he teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the sculpture
Professor LaVergne's works, sculptures in steel, are among many
private collections and seven public collections including McNeese
State University in Lake Charles and the Old State Capital in Baton
Rouge, where he designed five sculptured panels for the State Archives.
He has shown his work at a number of cities across
the country, participating in a total of 15 different invitational
of his artwork, 12 competitive exhibitions, 63 group exhibitions,
and 6 singular exhibitions. His work has been referenced in four
magazines, two brochures, and fifteen news articles. He has appeared
on 11 different radio and television programs.
LaVergne has received numerous grants for his work, including joint
grants from Southern and LSU, the State Division of the Arts and
the National Endowment for the Arts.
He has given lectures at numerous colleges and at various art-centered
programs including the New Orleans School System and Louisiana
Among his many awards, he lists Battle Creek Art Center Area Show
Award and the Nova Engineering Cash Award. All Michigan Show, among
He has served on numerous panels including Louisiana's Arts Fellowship
His many service and research activities, awards, exhibitions,
and commissions are too many to mention.
His work is described as "an expression of the colorful flavor
of his rich heritage."
Although Professor Albert LaVergne may have left the soil of his
native Evangeline Parish, his life's work continues to exhibit
his local upbringing.
His is just one of the many success stories of those who have left
our midst to achieve their goals in far off places.
Editor's Note: Many people from the
Basile area leave here early in life to pursue their dreams and
are very successful in reaching their goals. Willie Belton, a life-long
Basile resident, recently shared with us an impressive resume'
of a Basile native who has been long gone from the area. This is
the story of Albert LaVergne, where is he now?