The Basile Weekly, Basile, La., Wednesday, July 30, 2003  

Early exposure to blacksmith work inspires Basile native to artistic career in steel

  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 occurred 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 amuse himself. 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.
  Al attended 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 department.
  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 exhibitions 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 Public Radio.
  Among his many awards, he lists Battle Creek Art Center Area Show Award and the Nova Engineering Cash Award. All Michigan Show, among others.
  He has served on numerous panels including Louisiana's Arts Fellowship Awards.
  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?

Professor Albert Lavergne and one his many steel sculptures

A steel sculpture piece by Basile native Albert LaVergne