The Historic New Orleans Collection marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with the release of the book and exhibition The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City. Traveling to the Whatcom Museum, courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection, this photo exhibition features the haunting black-and-white images of New Orleans-based photographer David G. Spielman. His photographs chronicle the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the arrested processes of rebuilding and recovery that persist in many neighborhoods. Spielman and his camera have canvassed the city since Katrina’s landfall, marking the passage of time through a slow decay of architecture and a rapid growth of plant life.
His confrontation with his subjects is unflinching, and from his photographs emerge stories of neglect, renewal, and perseverance within an altered cityscape. Spielman captured the essence of hope and despair in his powerful pictures of Katrina’s devastation, and even after ten years, the recovery of the city is both amazing and incomplete. The result is this poignant portrait of rebirth and blight, perfect for an artist who’s a master of black and white.
Although these photographs document a part of America that is far from the Pacific Northwest, it is a reminder that we are all affected by natural disasters. The effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes are a concern to us in the Northwest and we hope this exhibition will help people consider the importance of disaster preparedness.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, the companion book, The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City, provides a "poignant portrait of rebirth and blight, perfect for an artist who s a master of black and white," says Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent levee breaches ravaged New Orleans. Dramatic images abounded, but they told only the beginning of the story. In the 10 years since, David G. Spielman embraced the traditions of photographers from the Works Progress Administration and Farm Security Administration and documented subtle changes throughout his beloved city.'New Orleans has a melancholy beauty that defies logic and transcends time,'says Spielman. Vines creep up the side of a home that could be vacant or occupied. Graffiti mars or beautifies? the walls of an abandoned building. Readers must draw their own conclusions from his haunting black-and-white images.
Also by Spielman, documenting the storm and its immediate aftermath, is Katrinaville Chronicles: Images and Observations from a New Orleans Photographer, a uniquely intimate collection of correspondence and photographs from the "ground zero" of post-Katrina New Orleans, offering new insight into the tragedy. Previously published and renowned New Orleans photographer, David Spielman, remained in his uptown New Orleans home during and after the storm. Armed with his camera and a gun for a self-protection, he captured the turmoil on the streets of his very own neighborhood in a way no one else could. Included here are Spielman's breathtaking photographs paired with the emails he sent while the full impact of the hurricane's devastation and failed governmental assistance was still unfolding. Of all the books written about Hurricane Katrina, none can compare to the intimacy and beauty of this professional photographer's personal account from inside the eye of the storm.