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

Today, this 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 will have a better understanding of him after the show. His collection begins with an old photo taken in his hometown and ends with photos he learned to take with his iPhone.

“It turns out I have hundreds of things I’ve done over the years,” Packard says. “But we were limited to how many things we could hang up and hang up. Basically, what I did was pick something that I’ve created every decade since the ’50s.”

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

He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1956. Packard was originally scheduled to be stationed in Korea, but the plan changed on short notice and he spent a year serving in Europe. While on his first tour, he began his career in photography.

“I actually started when I was in the military overseas,” he says. “I was a photographer for the army. Around the time I was graduating from LSU majoring in art and was drafted into the military. They had ordered me for Korea but, at the last minute, they changed the orders and sent me to France, which I was happy about. I was able to travel all over Europe. And that worked directly into my profession, you know, art history became very important to me.

Between his tours with the Army, Packard earned his bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and his master’s degree from Kent State University, both in fine arts. He also ran the crafts program for the army while in Germany.

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

He began teaching in 1964 at LSU as an art instructor. Over the next 30 years, he would teach at four different colleges, with the majority of his time spent at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A major change he saw and helped influence was photography as an art form.

“By the time I entered the college teaching profession, universities and colleges across America were realizing that photography was an art form,” he said. “Before that time I think they saw it primarily as a photojournalist thing. I think they were eager to implement the ‘new’ medium of art. It was a time of discovery and I’m fell into it.

Not only did he teach, but he was head of department 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 to some. He hopes the exhibit will teach people how to really see the world around them and not just look at it.

“I have made it a centerpiece in my efforts to teach my students how to see. I don’t know if it’s because I only had one eye, the one that was long gone from injury. But my appreciation of being able to see is what I have tried to teach my students. Teach them to see, to open their eyes and not just to look at things but to see them, like critical thinking, we need critical vision.

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

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