SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Fonville Winans photography exhibit opens in Baton Rouge

SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Fonville Winans photography exhibit opens at Capitol Park Museum

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - You may not know his name, but chances are you've seen a photograph taken by Fonville Winans. His images help tell Louisiana's story over the last hundred years, and there's a new art exhibition where you can see them.

A Colorful World in Black & White: Fonville Winans’ Photographs of Louisiana opened on July 14th at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. It features over 160 photographs and artifacts.

A Colorful World in Black & White: Fonville Winans’ Photographs of Louisiana opened on July 14th at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. It features over 160 photographs and artifacts.
A Colorful World in Black & White: Fonville Winans’ Photographs of Louisiana opened on July 14th at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. It features over 160 photographs and artifacts. (Source: WAFB)

Winans began his career in the 1930s wandering the swamps and other rural areas of the state. His early photographs show a unique slice of Louisiana living that otherwise may have gone undocumented.

Winans began his career in the 1930s wandering the swamps and other rural areas of the state. His early photographs show a unique slice of Louisiana living that otherwise may have gone undocumented.
Winans began his career in the 1930s wandering the swamps and other rural areas of the state. His early photographs show a unique slice of Louisiana living that otherwise may have gone undocumented. (Source: WAFB)

He went places in south Louisiana that others didn’t go,” museum curator Joey David explained. “These people are just living their daily lives, so you really get a sense of what it was like.”

”He bought a boat and explored all the swamps of Louisiana, and lived on Grand Isle for a while, and eventually came to Baton Rouge with $10 in his pocket and got a scholarship from Huey Long,” Winans’s son Bob recalled.

After studying Journalism at LSU, photographing politicians eventually became Fonville’s next passion. His black and white portraits captured the state’s political color - and helped cement his reputation.

“Jimmie Davis came up to him and said, ‘We’re both famous in Louisiana,’ and Dad was quite impressed with that,” Bob Winans said.

Winans began his career in the 1930s wandering the swamps and other rural areas of the state. His early photographs show a unique slice of Louisiana living that otherwise may have gone undocumented.
Winans began his career in the 1930s wandering the swamps and other rural areas of the state. His early photographs show a unique slice of Louisiana living that otherwise may have gone undocumented. (Source: WAFB)

From politicians, Fonville moved to brides. He spent decades creating wedding memories for thousands of Louisiana families. Curators are still trying to track them all down.

”We’ve found some with the help of social media, but we’re asking the public to come to the museum. If your mom, grandmother was a Fonville bride – these pictures span from the 40s to the 80s – there’s a good chance your mom will be here,” David said.

The exhibition also features personal artifacts like the bicycle Fonville rode to and from his studio on Laurel Street – eight miles every day. Also on exhibit is much of the equipment he used, including his own inventions to process film.

“He would be quite excited about (being in a museum),” Bob Winans said. “He did not really realize at the time (how important he was). He was just following his passion.”

The Capitol Park Museum (660 N. Fourth St.) is open Tuesdays – Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, and $6 for students, senior citizens, and active military. Children six and under are free.

Face masks are currently required in the museum, and social distancing guidelines are in place.

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