New Orleans’ Teen Photographers
Exhibit brings images of destruction and hope to Annapolis
Reviewed by Carrie Steele
Rising above the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, 15 students from Lusher High School in New Orleans embarked on a photographic odyssey. They returned to homes destroyed or damaged by floods and winds. They sought relics and items left behind by neighbors and fellow residents. They found hurt, healing and hope.
Guided by Annapolis’ Kristin Elstner, who runs the VisionWorks’ program out of Maryland Hall, the art-minded teens worked with Sam Abell, a top National Geographic photographer, and a photo editor to tell a story in photos.
Students captured some 8,000 digital shots of their hometown in four days during the first week of April. Starting in the untouched French Quarter, young photographers worked their way from colorful street vendors and jamming jazz musicians to the rubble of the lower Ninth Ward.
They made images of belongings lost a man’s wallet, with water damaged license, cards and more; a child’s photo torn among debris; a house scattered with rubble and taken as a parallelogram. The students also took self-portraits one girl even made herself cry before the camera and wrote essays on their feelings and memories, what they lost and what they hope for.
“I remember wondering whether my house survived. I remember finding out it didn’t,” wrote student photographer Hannah Brower.
But images of hope fill the teens’ story photos as well. A small purple flower springs up amid ragged, waterlogged boards. A rosary stretches across a sunlit windowsill.
“It was definitely heartbreaking to see what these 15-year-old kids were going through,” says Elstner. “But you see how resilient kids are, more so than adults.”
In a moving exhibit of words and images, we get to know a few New Orleans teens and what they see in the hurricane damage, just 10 months after the disaster.
Showing thru Sept. 15; 10am-5pm M-Sa @ Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis: 410-263-5544.