My Neighborhood is Changing:
featuringLower 9th Ward Youth,
Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun
December 10, 2013 – January 10, 2014
Opening: Saturday, Dec 14, 4-7pm
Other events: Youth Performances TBD
L9 will be open during PhotoNOLA from 10:30am – 6:00pm, from Thursday Dec 12 – Sunday Dec 15.
As photographers, we have been documenting our Lower 9th Ward community‚ and the everyday people who reside here‚ for over thirty years. Through a summer photography camp, we hope to pass on the craft of photography to a new generation of young people, and enable them to be inspired by the same kinds of precious encounters that we have experienced over the years. Armed with our cameras, we went out scouting the 9th Ward for interesting subjects. The students socialized with neighbors, seniors, truckers, and construction workers. We walked out to the Mississippi river, and the bayou, where they photographed river traffic, nature and marshland.
On one of our journeys through the 9th Ward we explored what is now called the North side. This area is north of North Claiborne Avenue and was impacted most by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It is an area that has been the poster child of the hurricanes’ destruction and the base for FEMA funds to the city. Yet, we are still struggling to bring this neighborhood back. Many residents still feel that the Lower 9th Ward is the city’s forgotten and neglected community.
The streets are still filled with vegetation taller than you and I. As the students began to document this area, their eyes lit up and shutters began to click. Despite all the disarray and overgrown vegetation, they saw beauty past the pot holes, capturing the soul of the community.
It has been so inspiring for us to watch them as they worked with hungry, eager spirits and embraced the art of photography.
We know that we are merely tapping the surface of the bubbling energy of talents that reside within these students. This exhibit is a tribute to and celebration of these talents, and we hope it inspires them to continue their journey as artists.
Giving our young artists a camera was almost like putting a weapon in their hands. Remember Gordon Parks, the pioneer African American photographer, filmmaker and composer who said, in his book, A Choice of Weapons, that a camera is just as powerful as a gun when put in the right hands. When our youth choose to pick up a camera, they have the opportunity to show what is beautiful in spite of the jungle of obstacles set before them.
– Chandra McCormick & Keith Calhoun