BOGALUSA, La. (WGNO) — Jessica Williams is the poster artist for the 2023 Bogalusa Blues Festival.

Her love of Louisiana has been reflected in the colors of her paint since she was young. From the haunting flight of the blue heron to the soulful flavor of blue crabs in a pot of gumbo, the blues are part of her color pallet of emotion.

“I love Louisiana. I’ve grown up here my entire life. I remember going out on the Bogue Chitto with my dad and seeing the cypress trees, herons, alligators and being so inspired by the colors,” explains Williams.

“I remember seeing French impressionist, Edgar Degas’ work, when I was in 7th grade, visiting New Orleans. I just knew from that point on that I wanted to be an artist,” explains Williams.

Bogalusa has proudly been her home. It’s a city where the local paper mill puffs billows of steam, families go back for generations and her artwork hangs in local establishments. It’s this small town and relaxed feelings, that Williams captures. Her paintings are the essence of Bogalusa.

Talking about this year’s poster, Williams says, “There is the Bogalusa courthouse. I included the Mardi Gras flags, because that is a big part of Bogalusa. We have our own parade. There’s a crawfish representing the food of the Bogalusa Blues Festival and the International Paper paper mill, which is what the entire city is based around. One thing I like about the poster is the movement and light. You can see how the woman in the center is enjoying herself. She is taking in everything around her at the festival.”

The blues are a song of hardship that historically alchemizes pain into something beautiful. In the state of Louisiana, there is much that give people blues, including the devastating weather. Louisianans roll with the punches of life and know all about the blues. It’s this specific emotion that is portrayed in this year’s poster.

“There was some inspiration behind the woman in the painting. I’m co-owner of a salon here in Bogalusa. We have so many wonderful clients that come in. One of our long-time clients is unfortunately battling cancer. She has ocular cancer. Her eyesight is fading pretty quickly. The fact that I can do the poster, and say that no matter what, this is for you, was important. It was definitely dedicated to her. Every brush stroke of every painting I do, is a love letter to the content that I am painting,” says Williams.

See more of Williams’ work on her website.

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