Atchafalaya Actualized: an awareness of the fragility that exists for our ecosystem, nature and culture, while celebrating and cherishing her beauty
Since childhood I’ve been fascinated with the unique American culture that lives in southern Louisiana on water beyond land’s end. After witnessing the 2005 Hurricane Katrina and the damage to our coastal wetlands, I began my journey to explore and document these swamps, a part of America’s Wetlands. For about 14 years now, I’ve photographed thousands of these locations.
My first tour was shortly after Katrina to the Barataria swamps between Lafitte and Grand Isle, Louisiana, just south of New Orleans. The locals call these former communities “the Ustabes,” because these fishing villages “used to be” there, but aren’t anymore.
Since then I’ve been from the Pearl River border of Southeast Louisiana to the subject matter of this show: the Heart of the Atchafalaya. I’ve seen and photo-documented these sites. I’ve met the people and have heard their stories. These photorealistic oil on canvas landscapes are my way of sharing all of this with you. My attempt to visually preserve this vanishing way of life is done in what I call a “poem meets police report” fashion. The paintings are aesthetically attractive, yet their back-stories arrest your attention.
This year, 2019, we’ve had extraordinarily high waters on rivers and swamps, a flood threat of opening the Morganza Spillway, and the ongoing struggle to prevent the mighty Mississippi River from changing course to flow through the Atchafalaya. All of this and the recent panic caused by Hurricane Barry put an exclamation point on the end of my story about our imperiled national treasure, our wetlands.
I bring to you Atchafalaya Actualized: an awareness of the fragility that exists for our ecosystem, nature and culture, while celebrating and cherishing her beauty.