Ashlee Michot

Location: La Prairie des Femmes, Louisiana  Website:  Instagram: @prairiedesfemmes

How did your interest in your medium begin and how did you arrive at your current style?

I moved to an unincorporated area in South Louisiana called La Prairie des Femmes, or Prairie of the Women, in the summer of 2006 and began to observe the moon there. I taught French at the local high school but had little time for artistic endeavors. As our family and homestead grew I decided to stay home with my children, home school them in Louisiana French and pursue any artistic impulse I had.

Today I photograph daily, write and transcribe funny things in Louisiana French, paint, write music, wild craft medicinal herbs, and do some amateur archaeology in the fields around my house. I began a blog to post research and Iphone photos and share what I was doing. A portion of my work can be found on my blog

How do you choose your subjects?

My subjects are linked to Louisiana culture and the French language. It was only after I got deep into learning the language that I was able to see my native land through the lens that I do now. I like to photograph things that are changing or disappearing or that evoke the past: smoke rising from the tree line, an approaching storm, blue fog in the morning, a cove or prairie with an obscure name.

Who have been some of your biggest influences or your best teachers?

My best teacher is my husband Louis Michot, who helped me learn Louisiana French and who lovingly built our home in La Prairie des Femmes. 

Do you have a creative or artistic peer group in your area that you're a part of? What opportunities are there for artists like yourself in your area? 

I am part of a young generation of Louisiana natives who are reclaiming their French language so that it can be passed to younger generations. There is a thriving number of Cajun and Creole musicians, artists, farmers, photographers, chefs, and jack-of-all-trades who have taken up this cause around Lafayette and in the surrounding parishes and I am proudly part of that crew.

Where do you go to draw inspiration? 

I draw inspiration from the countryside of La Prairie des Femmes and all of her mysteries but that is where I live, and one cannot live in the realm of the mystical 24/7. When I want to be inspired I like to travel up the road to a place in the country where I spent time as a child called Point Blue. It was there where I first heard French spoken. My main inspiration, though, and my means of teleportation, is a French Language radio program out of my hometown of Ville Platte, Louisiana. I listen religiously three times a week, learning all I can from the colorful callers’ ancient dialect. Listen in online or at 92.5 KVPI. There’s an app for that! 

Are there any aspects of the Southern aesthetic that you embrace or ones you consciously avoid?

I read recently that Southern writers and artists usually overdo it on the “kudzu” references, so that’s the one I’ll try to avoid, however impossible it may be! 

Tell me about a recent, current, or upcoming project or exhibition.

I have self-published two books of my work with Louisiana yard shrines and Marian grottos called The Plains of Mary and also one of photography from around La Prairie des Femmes called Portraits of a Place both available through Blurb. I am currently working on my next releases. Merci!