Monday, December 22, 2008

The Most Scenic Disaster

This is a very interesting web piece on about Katrina as topic on film, and includes some good clips as well as writing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Join Us!

Students are busy preparing their exhibition prints and framing, as well as preparing presentation on their projects!

Please join us for student presentations:
Wednesday, December 3rd
Pence Building; Room p-107
(Corner or Hennepin and 8th)

Friday, December 12th
Ai Minnesota Gourmet Gallery
(15 South 9th Street)

And of course in addition to the above events the opening reception of the students' exhibition, 1125 Days Later: New Orleans Now, will take place at Traffic Zone Center for Art. See images for details!

Friday, October 10, 2008

When last we blogged...

I am experiencing an enormous sense of guilt over having not finished the story of our amazing week. I will get to Friday, I promise! ...Here's a preview. My stalwart co-instructor, Becky, befriending her "supper" (lunch).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

and Back to Wednesday....

Amanda H. , Antonio, and a couple of others stayed behind from our early morning shoot in Holy Cross Wednesday to go back to Tennessee Street. Amanda had made a beautiful image of Miss Gertrude's dog, and wanted to give her a print. We got to her house just in the nick of time, because she was heading out for a doctor appointment. She loved the picture and posed for a formal portrait for Amanda. Then we wandered up the street and knocked on Robert Green's door. See the last post for more detail about our visit with him!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Our visit with the Times-Picayune!

I'm going to start posting more of these in the next couple of days--here's a taste of the incredible generosity of time and access the Times-Picayune afforded us--Audrey and Anthony were on the ride-along with me and photographer Chris Granger:

Yard Sale

Here is a whirlwind of images from the last few days: In order--Sally shooting early morning; Sally and Amanda T. shooting early morning on Rampart; Dropping a photo off from the 1st travel and study program (by Rich Ryan); Amanda H. interviewing Robert Green in his trailer (Robert will shortly be ground-breaking on a home through the Make It Right Foundation--he was incredibly generous with his time and story. He lost both his mother and granddaughter in Katrina.); Amanda H., Robert Green, and Antonio.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wednesday Visit with Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographers from the Times-Picayune

We can't thank the Times-Picayune enough for this amazing experience!


Jean Gordon Elementary School. Lakeview.

Water Lines.


Lunch and ride alongs with the Pulitzer Prize winning staff at the Times-Picayune. I'd like to thank the staff at the TP for their generosity.

Chalmette Battle Ground

Pictorial Update

Sorry--we're on the run--I'll catch you up on stories later! This is Ashley photographing at a no-kill animal shelter in Roseland, LA. At the bottom is Steve Maklansky critiquing student work Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

To Lake Ponchartrain and Beyond!

The Ponchartrain Causeway bridges are 23+ miles spanning the lake with opposite traffic directions--the longer of the two is the longest bridge in the world over water. Think about that. Isn't that something? I took Anthony and Ashley across it Tuesday. Anthony to the Insta-Gator Alligator Breeding Farm (and no, I cannot make this stuff up) in Abita Springs, LA (about an hour from New Orleans). Then Ashley and I headed West and North to Roseland, LA after depositing Anthony at his shooting location. Ashley was headed to see a gentleman who has a no-kill shelter for dogs. They have "around" 290 dogs there. He's pretty much all alone at it. It was both heartening and disheartening all at the same time. His heart is so in the right place, but....I'll let Ashley tell you the rest in her blog.

Ashley and I picked up some friend chicken, biscuits, and potato sticks (deep friend 1/4 of a potato wedges) at a gas station...yummmm. We saved some for Anthony. When we arrived back at Insta-Gator (say it aloud, go ahead)....Anthony was standing outside sort of waving his arms and mouthing "OH ---- MY ---- GOD". Please click here to experience a similar level of enthusiasm from earlier in the week. We didn't think his mood cold be further peaked after delivering his excited recap of the way the Insta-Gator(s) are doing so much for the environment, but the fried chicken just sent him into orbit--he became conflicted about the good manners of chewing with one's mouth closed and telling more of his story. Feeling a little to blame for providing this lunch, we gave him the go ahead to talk with his mouth full. He was really excited.

For me this was a wonderful excuse to see beyond the borders of the city of New Orleans. The north shore is highly wooded with tall cypress, though clearly caving to sprawl. In certain areas appalling clearings of trees have given way to white dry mud, that will soon give way to Wal-Marts or some such thing. Especially along Interstate 12 this was quite prevalent. The back roads, away from the highways, wound this way and that and were heavily wooded, but fort the occasional McMansion.

That afternoon Steve Maklansky visited the group at the hotel to give a talk about Katrina - right after the storm, and after...he also reviewed student work, and shared many personal stories. It was truly a special afternoon! See the post from a couple of days ago for pix--I'm a bit out of order--we are always driving soon as we bring one group of students somewhere, we hav eto pick another up--then its starts again--I'll try to catch the words up soon!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Amanda with Mr. Chuck Byrne in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans. Mr. Byrne has been living in his 200 square foot FEMA trailer on the front lawn of his childhood home for 2 years while he works through the red tape of reconstruction. He opened his home to us and shared his moving story -- it was a truly humbling morning. You can read more about Mr. Byrne's story on Amanda's blog.

Below, Mr. Byrne in his home with a ship in a bottle that once belonged to his grandfather. Byrne grew up in this home and ultimately raised his family here until it was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. In addition to meeting Mr. Byrne, we also had the opportunity to sit down with Miss Gibbs. The students met Miss Gibbs last time they were here during some work with Rebuilding New Orleans Together. Miss Gibbs sat down with us today in her newly remodeled home and shared stories about her collection of photographs that is currently finding its way to the walls. The photographs, salvaged from her home post-Katrina, were on the wall just above the water lines and were the only things, along with the china, that she salvaged.

Below: Keith Cich at work on a panoramic shot in the home of Mr. Chuck Byrne.

"If I was gittin' up at 6am to shoot, I'd be fixin' to bring back meat..."

It's what a fellow hotel guest just said to me. He has his preferred targets, we have ours. We started Monday on Tennessee Street in the Lower 9th Ward. This street has seen enormous transformation in the last nine months. A gestation that has included a sea of pink tents, launching the Make It Right Foundation's efforts to make sure the owner residents of the neighborhood could have a reasonable way to return; then came another quiet time that resembled the time before the pink tents--I wondered then if there would be houses; and now, suddenly these great spaceship looking Dwell-Magazine-attention-seeking, stilted, ready-to-float, "green" homes have emerged on Tennessee Street.

"Brad Pitt is a Modernist." is what I heard out of the mouth of a young architect being bombarded by questions by a couple of students as I approached. I can only ponder what the question was...why don't these look anything like traditional New Orleans homes? They really didn't grow on me until our little group trickled onto the front walk of Gertrude LeBlanc's new home. I first met Gertrude in December the morning I was thwarted from making my Tennessee Street tree picture by the pink cast on everything in the neighborhood of the MIR Foundation's project to launch, fund raise, and bring awareness to the plan to build affordable housing for the original homeowner/residents of the Lower 9th Ward. I asked her that morning if all the noise woke her up. She told me no, emphatically. She was thrilled that there was life again in her neighborhood. And these are the good spirits we found her in Monday. She had a little dog that she had to periodically stop her story telling to tell to stop barking, as she rocked in her rocker. She is really excited to have her neighbors back--in the next week or so, they will move in. MIR stipulates that the homes be built only for resident/homeowners who own the land on which their former houses stood.

After this, we departed for Lake Ponchartrain to hang out with some fishermen and photograph, before returning to the hotel for a quick lunch at Mother's, and the short walk to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There we previewed a few of the pictures about to be hung for this Saturday's opening of the Sally Mann exhibition (which we will attend), as well some Lisa Silvestri work, and a number of gems from the permanent collection. Perhaps the best treat was seeing a fairly rare early-eighties portfolio of thirty images by William Eggleston. Here are the students being shown this magnificent work:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Animal Farm

Amanda, Ashley, and I piled into the soccer-mom-minivan at two yesterday to get Ashley out to a no-kill animal shelter she was interested in photographing. The rest of the group, but for a couple who decided that four hours of Cop TV would be an excellent way to spend the hottest part of the afternoon, went back down to Lafitte to get Anthony (who hasn't stopped grinning ear to ear since, by the way) After a navigation-challenged hour and a quarter, we arrived at this dilapidated brick building in an industrial park in Metarie. There were three or four young boys (high school age) laying about on top of dog kibble bags in the open garage section of the building. When we went inside there was a couple having a littler of four kitties vaccinated. They'd found them under a restaurant in Mid City. Ashley set to work:

9.29 AM Shooting

Sunrise in the Lower 9th with Anthony and Amanda. Below, Anthony washes some biting ants off his ankles. He can handle a live alligator without a problem, but the ants...
Off Lakeshore Drive at Lake Pontchartrain. Keith learned to fish. He lost 2 shrimp.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Team Swamp

We started off the day at 6:15am in the breakfast room. Unfortunately, and I believe this is Amanda's fault, the night person had taken home the key to the kitchen. Hence we were relegated to a selection of Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Raisin Bran, milk, and a machine offering selections of a fluid in various forms alleging to be "coffee". It was not. Amanda gave the front desk lady a hard time about the cookies not being in the bin when we had our late night planning session last night. I think the woman took the key home in spite...smiling while jamming to the beat of something loud, and throwing her head back laughing to think of us craving make-your-own-waffles, but finding no purchase. We left the hotel at 6:45am to set out for Lafitte, LA to drop Anthony off to crab hunt. Lafitte was hit hard by the storm surge of Gustav and saw 3+ feet of water in areas. The checkout clerk at the Piggly Wiggly had three feet (of water). I said I was sorry, and she shrugged. Many people here have only just bought new things, scraped the molded sheet rock out, become settled again, and now they are again, in ruin.

Darryl, Anthony's boat ride, was really terrific. He brought us around his property and showed us his boats and pictures of the gators he's tacked over the years. I asked him if it scared him when he had shoot a particularly big gator four times, and he responded, "Not anymore. It used to." He said his eight year old daughter is the most fearless of alligators in the family. I'm not sure is that's good or not. Here's Anthony's recap:

We've arrived and hit the ground -- er, the bayou, running...

Antonio's counterpoint....and Colleen's