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Local artist, former UL professor, shows 70 years of his work

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) – Fred Packard has been creating art for over eight decades. He is celebrated by many in Louisiana for his work and dedication to craftsmanship.

Now, that work is on display at the Hillard Art Museum in Lafayette.

The exhibition entitled “Little Things: Drawings and Photographs by Fred Packard” offers a retrospective look at his career as an artist. The show features artwork created by Packard during his adventures around the world.

He hopes people have a greater understanding of him after the show. His collection begins with an old photo taken in his hometown and ends with the photos he learned to take with his iPhone.

“It turned out that I have hundreds of things I’ve done over the years,” Packard says, “But we were limited to the number of things we could hang up. Basically, what I’ve done is pick something I’ve been creating for every decade since years. ’50 “.

Packard is a Louisiana native who first fell in love with art at the age of eight after his tonsils were removed. He started with drawing small pictures. His parents eventually bought a set of paint and canvas. As he got older, he ventured into other hobbies, but always returned to art.

He was drafted into the United States Army in 1956. Packard was originally supposed to be stationed in Korea, but the plan changed at short notice and he spent a year in service in Europe. During his first tour he began his professional journey in photography.

“I actually started when I was in the military overseas,” he says. “I was a photographer for the army. About when I was finishing up at LSU for an art degree and was drafted into the military. They ordered me for Korea but, at the last minute, they changed the orders and sent me to France, which I was happy with. I have to travel all over Europe. And that worked in my profession, you know, the history of art has become very important to me. “

In between his tours with the army, Packard earned his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and his master’s degree from Kent State University, both in fine arts. He also ran the army craft program while in Germany.

Art had become the focus of his life and he wanted to bring that love to others.

He started teaching in 1964 at LSU as an art instructor. Over the next 30 years, he taught at four different colleges, spending most of his time at the University of southwestern Louisiana now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. One of the major changes he saw and helped to influence was photography as an art form.

“By the time I started teaching college, universities and colleges across America were becoming aware that photography was an art form,” he said. “Before that, I think they saw it primarily as a photographic journalistic thing. I think they were eager to implement the “new” medium of art. It was a period of discovery and I fell right into it ”.

Not only did he teach, but he worked as a department head at ULL and founded the photography concentration. He retired from teaching in 1996 and once again spent his days with his family and creating art.

Throughout his life Packard has lived, seen and traveled places unimaginable for some. He hopes the exhibit will teach people how to truly see the world around them and not just look at it.

“I made it a central part of my efforts to teach my students to see. I don’t know if it’s because I only had one eye, that had long since disappeared due to an injury. But my appreciation for being able to see is what I have tried to teach my students. By teaching them to see, to open their eyes and not just to look at things, but to see them, like critical thinking, we need a critical vision ”.

“Little Things” will be on display at the Hilliard Art Museum until April 2023.

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