Images Salvaged From Hurricane Katrina Recall Life in New Orleans | Arts & Tradition

Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans, so Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun packed their images archive—hundreds of slides, negatives and prints the couple had amassed over three many years documenting African American life in Louisiana. They crammed a dozen plastic bins, which they stacked excessive on tables. Then they drove to Houston with their two youngsters, planning to be gone for perhaps two weeks. Ten weeks later, McCormick and Calhoun returned residence to…devastation. “All there was, was waterlogged,” Calhoun says. “Think about the scent—all that stuff had been in that mud and mould.” They figured that they had misplaced the whole lot, together with the archive, however their teenage son urged them to not throw it away. They put the archive right into a freezer, to forestall additional deterioration. With an digital scanner they copied and enlarged the photographs—at first simply looking for something recognizable. The water, warmth and mould had blended colours, creating surreal patterns over ghostly scenes of brass band parades, Mardi Gras celebrations and riverside baptisms. “Mom Nature went means past my creativeness as a photographer,” Calhoun says of the otherworldly pictures. McCormick says, “We not contemplate them broken.”

Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick.
Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick

(Adrienne Battistella)






The duo’s effort to reinterpret their footage has an inspirational really feel. This flood-transformed {photograph}, a curiously expressive summary work, is now titled How We Reemerge Is a Thriller.

(Chandra Cormick and Keith Calhoun)

Forever Forward Even Through the Darkness
A parade within the Treme neighborhood in 1997 included the sixth Ward Excessive Steppers, a brass band. The photographers name this relic of that joyful second Endlessly Ahead Even Via the Darkness.

(Chandra Cormick and Keith Calhoun)

Right now McCormick and Calhoun’s altered images are seen as a metaphor for town’s resilience. But they’re additionally a memento of a group that’s not the identical. By 2019, New Orleans had misplaced greater than 1 / 4 of its African American inhabitants. “A lot is vanishing now,” Calhoun says. “I feel this work serves as a document to validate that we as soon as lived on this metropolis. We have been its religious spine.”






Rebirth. New Orleans, 2010

(Chandra Cormick and Keith Calhoun)






Untitled. New Orleans, 2010

(Chandra Cormick and Keith Calhoun)






We’re Resilient. New Orleans, 2010

(Chandra Cormick and Keith Calhoun)



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