In some ways, bayou Cajuns are a world apart from their cosmopolitan Creole Cajun brethren who settled further east. As the Acadian diaspora spread throughout America following the Great Expulsion, groups of Cajun emigrants developed their own unique customs, traditions, and recipes as they made contact with new peoples and areas, leading to many regional permutations of Cajun society. As with other ethnic groups, there is no no one true version of Cajun culture, despite the tendency for Cajuns to be treated as a single monolithic group within the American imagination.
Born in the remote salt marshes of Southeast Texas to a family of commercial fishers, author and artist Jim LaBove was raised with a unique perspective on Cajun life. Far removed from big cities and many of the conveniences of modern life available to other groups of people at the time, Jim spent his childhood fishing, crabbing, and hunting around Sabine Pass, Texas, with little contact with the outside world. In his spare time, Jim would draw the wildlife, plants, landmarks, food, and tools that he saw around him. This hobby stayed with him throughout his life, even as he moved away from the salt marshes to pursue a college education and new life experiences.
Jim’s drawings reveal the world of bayou Cajuns to be desolate, humble, and hard-lived, but nonetheless filled with strange beauty and grace all around. Taken as a whole, they paint a vivid picture of a side of Cajun life that many folks may never know exist. As with the first volume, the sketches herein are compiled from material gathered for the “Cotton’s Seafood” line of Cajun autobiographical cookbooks.
In its pages, you’ll find hundreds of field sketches (many exclusive to this book) covering many aspects of bayou Cajun life, conveniently grouped by subject matter. Interspersed throughout the book are Jim’s brief thoughts on the art in each section, including memories that tie the subjects of his drawings to his life as a Cajun and ruminations on the significance of how learning more about the subjects can lead to a broader understanding of Cajun culture.
Spanning years of research, planning, writing, and illustrating, Sketches of My Cajun Life: Volume 2 is a one-of-a-kind glimpse into Cajun life through folk art, and our Cajun family could not be prouder to share it with yours.