Notes on New Orleans

Notes on New Orleans

As I take leave once again, I can’t help but reflect on my attachment to this city. She has seen me thru many poignant times. 

Night time is the Right Time
Under her watch, I was witness to the human suffering and resilience of so many residents post Katrina. She accompanied me in the final weeks as I bid farewell to my dear sister and comforted me after my father passed away. Most recently she played host to my husband’s 70th birthday celebration.

New Orleans calls me back, over and over.

She understands anguish and knows how to bask in celebration.  Embracing all of life, she acknowledges its hardships while reveling in the exquisiteness of the present.

I am always learning here. Things unfold in this city in ways I could never have imagined, leaving me awe inspired. 

Thank you to the amazing artists, musicians and creatives of this city, who keep pushing the envelope while opening new pathways for love and understanding; and to the chefs who, thru their incredible dedication and hard work, feed not only our bodies but our souls. 

Christmas Eve, Bonfire by the Levee
…For more up to date posts, feel free to follow my adventures on Instagram


Many thanks for visiting my blog, a true labor of love.  I haven't posted for some time as my creative energies got diverted to various projects. I have started other social media platforms in which I can easily continue to share images and thoughts.  If you have the time, feel free to poke around this blog. There is a  wealth of timeless information and inspiration tucked into these pages (along with a bit of self promotion).
If you would like to follow my musings on a more regular basis, you can find me on...
                          Facebook (public page)
And yes, I finally joined Instagram

Japan / part 4

Some final, overall thoughts on my trip to Japan.

What I did not mention in this blog was that I was invited there to help celebrate a big birthday for a dear friend and Chicago chef, Rick Bayless. It was a surprise so I did not tell many people of my plans to travel there. The trip had a very strong food component.

The Tokyo portion of the trip was very carefully crafted by Deann Bayless and chef, sommelier, journalist, restaurant consultant and author of Food Sake Tokyo, Karla Yukari Sakamoto, who accompanied us thru out the trip. She was FABULOUS in her knowledge, grace, and guiding abilities.

THE ESSENCE OF THE TRIP...for me, was experienced  in a ryokan (guest house) in Kyoto and at the final lunch at Ginza Kyubey in Tokyo (see earlier post of my visual journey thru Wabi Sabi Japan).

There was a NYT article on the ryokan we stayed at, Japanese Traditions Ancient Kyoto. The moment I walked in I felt a calm state of peace and harmony wash over me. EVERYTHING from that experience was like a perfectly orchestrated ballet. I took a few photographs from the kaiseki dinner and other meals that were served in the room. Every course was exquisite in its presentation and tastiness. Many "firsts" were had at the dining table.

the most delicious sukiyaki EVER!
" If you don't speak the language of the country you are visiting, a good way to access its culture is thru the food and the music." Rick Bayless 

Melons sell for hundreds of dollars...the entire plant is sacrificed for the one promising melon which is nurtured over many months...the skin of these melons is unlike anything I have ever seen in the states.

 We experienced traditional Japanese meals, including .......

A Yakitori dinner, a Tempura lunch,  Unagi lunch, a Tonkatsu dinner, Kaiseki dinner (please purchase Yukari's book for more information, like what the 5 elements are of EVERY MEAL).

 Unagi lunch
Unagi (Anguilla japonica) is freshwater eel and a traditional cuisine of Tokyo. It is butterflied, steamed, and then grilled over charcoal and served over a bed of rice. 
 Soba Dinner
The soba master at Nigyō is highly respected for his handmade soba noodles.
A visit  to Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s farm. Nancy is the author of Japanese Farm Food. 
barrels of miso being cured in her backyard....

 vinegar tasting
 wasabi being prepared for the salmon roe dish

  Ginza Kyubey 
 the city’s celebrated sushi restaurant that exemplified the Japanese aesthetic in every detail of the experience
The decor was drop dead beautiful, exquisite sushi, service...all 5 senses were covered. 
This meal / experience was not just spectacular, it was heavenly. 

I just finished watching several episodes of The Mind of the Chef, with David Chang traveling to Japan to learn more about food.  The following  quote sums up the experience for all visitors, not just chefs.... "It's impossible for any cook, any chef to visit Japan, be exposed to the impossibly fetishistic appreciation of the ingredients, the perfectionist approach to technique, the mind boggling sheer volume of good stuff to eat, without being changed forever---- You leave Japan a better cook or you give up cooking altogether. Japan tends to focus the mind in wonderful new ways, refining, stripping away what is unnecessary."

Tsukiji Fish Market / Tokyo / Part 3

The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (東京都中央卸売市場 Tōkyō-to Chūō Oroshiuri Shijō?), commonly known as the Tsukiji Market (築地市場 Tsukiji shijō?), is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind (most of text is from Wikipedia)
 4am departure from hotel to view the market

 The market handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species.[3] Overall, more than 700,000 metric tons of seafood are handled every year at the three seafood markets in Tokyo, with a total value in excess of 600 billion yen (approximately 5.9 billion US dollars on November 24th, 2013). The number of registered employees as of 25 January 2010 varies from 60,000 to 65,000, including wholesalers, accountants, auctioneers, company officials, and distributors.

 Particularly impressive is the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses (wholesalers known in Japanese as oroshi gyōsha) then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. 
 The auctions start around 5:20 a.m. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants. 

The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspect the fish to estimate which fish they would like to bid for and at which price.
 These bidders include intermediate wholesalers (nakaoroshi gyōsha) who operate stalls in the marketplace and other licensed buyers who are agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.

 market from above

The auctions usually end around 7:00 a.m. Afterward, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation is elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives (some well over a meter in length) called oroshi-hōchōmaguro-bōchō, or hanchō-hōchō.

 processing tuna / slips of paper above are orders from restaurants

The Tsukiji fish market occupies valuable real estate close to the center of the city. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has repeatedly called for moving the market to ToyosuKoto,[12] with construction of the new market to begin in 2013 for completion in 2014.[13] The new location has been criticized for being heavily polluted and in need of cleanup.[14] There are plans to retain a retail market, roughly a quarter of the current operation, in Tsukiji.[13]

The Great Adventure / Japan Part 1

Having just returned from a great adventure, I decided that this blog would be a great place to share some of the inspiration that I received from my latest trip to Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan. I am short on time but keep thinking about all the amazing experiences I had so will try to share....

Not sure if you are familiar with term Wabi Sabi, but there is a wonderful book, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers that you can find on Amazon.

The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic
that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated
and trimmed away.
-architect Tadao Ando

"Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent."

Here are a few visuals that I found really inspiring. Not sure how they will be incorporated into my work...will need to wait and see.

Chicago Book Release Talk and Reception


Join award-winning, fine art photographer Jane Fulton Alt as she discusses her recently published book, The Burn.  This series of arresting photographs, begun in 2007, captures the beauty, violence and regenerative power of controlled prairie burns — “the ephemeral moment when life and death are not opposed, but are harmonized as a single process to be embraced as a whole.”
Thursday, November 7
6-8 PM
6 PM Reception, 7 PM Artist Talk

DePaul Art Museum
935 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago
A book-signing will follow the artist’s talk.Museum exhibitions will be open for viewing.Admission is complimentary. 
RSVP by November 4 to:
847.234.1063 or
Enjoy our convenient round trip shuttle for just $40/person. Advance reservations required. Meet at Ragdale, 1230 N. Green Bay Road in Lake Forest at 4:30 PM. 
Presented in cooperation with The Ragdale Foundation and the DePaul Art Museum

The Burn Project / An Interview with Jane Fulton Alt from Jane Fulton Alt on Vimeo.

The Patra Passage ~ Art at its Best!

Linda Lowe has created an art based experiment that explores the act of giving and receiving. It is a truly inspired project.  
108 Vessel ~ The Patra Passage

“The gift finds the man attractive who stands with an empty bowl he does not own.”
LEWIS HYDE, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

"The Patra Passage is an art-based project that experiments with a cycle of giving and receiving. The passage centers on the gifting of 108 hand-built ceramic vessels to participants who will re-gift them to others. The giftism cycle will continue for one year until each bowl has been presented and received at least three times, creating a community of over 324 participants. At the end of their circulation, the Patra will be returned and exhibited at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, sold, and all proceeds given to charity."

 I encourage you to learn more about The Patra Passage HERE.

Pilot Program @ Filter Photo Festival

Filter Photo Festival, now in its 5th year, decided to pilot a program for local high school students. They selected 4 students to participate in the portfolio reviews.
It was an honor to be asked to review, along with  Michael Zajakowski, photo editor for the Chicago Tribune. There is nothing I like better than mentoring, so of course I said yes.

 Chicago High School for the Arts photo students at Filter Photo Review

I am still thinking about the work I reviewed. I was so impressed with the portfolios and the presentations, and would like to share some of the exciting work that is being produced at The Chicago High School for the Arts. Their teacher is Whitney Bradshaw, a very talented Chicago photographer and former curator of the LaSalle Bank photographic collection.

The Drum Roll.....

Bruce Bennett
Untitled; 17 x 22 Digital print, 2012

"I am working on a black and white photographic series of people in their domestic environments as well as outside in their communities. 

Ignorance; 17 x 22 Digital print, 2013

I carefully employ several different light sources to suggest emotion or convey deeper meaning in the images."

Untitled; 17 x 22 Digital print, 2013

Anthony Aguirre

"These photos belong to a series of work that is a collective study of the architecture in Chicago. The city of Chicago features prominent buildings in a variety of styles by many important architects – which are noted for their originality rather than their antiquity. 

By documenting these spaces, I am capturing the beauty of these decaying structures and embedding them into this city’s grand history before they have completely diminished. My photos are an ode to their work and the city’s bygone public buildings and workplaces that have seemingly gone unnoticed over the years."

Gabby Ochoa

"My work uses light and technology in an experimental environment to ask questions about perception, abstraction, and the variable importance of representation.

"Incondite I" 2013

Incondite captures incidental abstraction of otherwise representational subjects and presents the image out of context in order to ask if something that is broken can be accepted as an aesthetic whole.

"Parhelions # 4" 2013

Parhelions warps perception in a series of simple light experiments with reflection and refraction. Whereas photography is typically an indexical medium, Parhelionsaims to represent nothing but the image itself. So what happens to work that does not adhere to the index?

"Sleepover" 2013

Photography, in that indexicality, has created a plethora of contemporary Artifacts. A photograph captures a moment in time, and unlike our minds and bodies, a photo will typically not erode and cease to exist (especially in the case of digital photography and the internet). Artifacts is subjecting photos to the same erosion the memories they represent undergo while leaving their "labels" intact. When the image is entirely or partially deteriorated, how do we make sense of the "label" in relation to the visual information/lack thereof?"

Jesus Pena

The work shown here is from 3, distinctly different, ongoing photographic series. In the first, I attempt to Glorify the BMX Lifestyle. 

The second is an exercise in Levitation

 and the third is from my Dark Cinematic Photo study." 

Book Launch

I am happy to announce that I will be having an exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography  opening Thursday, October 3rd. There will be an artist talk  on Thursday, October 10th at 6:15pm followed by an opening reception and book signing from 7-8:30 pm. If you live in the area, please stop by to say hello.

Griffin Museum of Photography
Atelier Gallery
67 Shore Road
Winchester, MA
for more information : 781-729-1158

between fire/smoke

between fire/smoke from Jane Fulton Alt on Vimeo.

“between fire/smoke” is an unfolding visual and textual journey through a landscape of liminality – leading to a place where all that is unresolved is imaginable…

Jane Fulton Alt – images, text and unique mixed media encaustic
Teresa Pankratz – structure and design

Printed and hand bound by the artists

Detailed description:
The limited edition artist’s book is hardcover, bound in light grey (“smoke”) Iris book cloth with silkscreened titling. The structure incorporates left and right covers with a magnet closure which, when opened, situate the text block as the center panel within a triptych of white space (Canson Ingres end sheets). The opening portion of the text block includes 4 sections (alternating between single and double-page construction) sewn to an exposed internal spine with a modified continuous pamphlet stitch. (Single-page sections are archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle photo rag; double-page sections are archival pigment prints on Niyodo Japanese paper). The attached back section of the book is an adhesive binding mounted on an internal “frame” constructed of laminated 4 and 8 ply archival Rising White mat covered with Niyodo Japanese paper. Unfolding left and right are, first, two three-panel archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle photo rag, followed by a series of four text and image single-page archival pigment prints on Niyodo Japanese paper. The final unfolding reveals a unique, mixed media encaustic mounted (on black Stonehenge) within the internal frame. The book is housed in a slip-case constructed of an archival pigment print on pearl gray Murillo by Fabriano.

Dimensions, closed: 8.5” x 8.5” x 1”.  Edition of 18. 2013.
For more information, please email me

Chicago's Filter Photo Festival

Chicago is anticipating a whirlwind of photographic events... If you haven't checked out the festival yet, click HERE to find out more. Image 37 is also a place where you can read more in depth interviews of some of the speakers and portfolio reviewers. I encourage you to check out the multitude of riches that await Chicago photographers.
Thank you to Sarah Hadley, the festival's Executive Director and visionary extraordinaire, James Pepper Kelly, Erin Hoyt, Maggie Pfaff, Charlotte Woolf and Tanner Young, all of whom have labored tirelessly AND enthusiastically to create a treasure trove of photographic inspiration for our community.

The Books

I have been very busy the past 10 months working on 2 books. It has been incredibly consuming and wonderful. So many people were involved with the evolution of both books...and the phrase "it takes a village" never felt more true. 

 All of my creative energies have been devoted to pushing these 2 objects out into the world. I have so much to share about the process and so little time. I hope to write more about it all come September.

Portrait of an Art Critic ~ Michael Weinstein

Every Chicago photographer is familiar with Michael Weinstein, the photo critic for the NewCity weekly. He is one of the city's treasures...always present at art openings,  lending a critical eye to the work  and always generous with his insights and time. Michael has an uncanny ability to contextualize work for an artist way before the artist has articulated it for themselves. He sees deeply. In a time of diminishing resources, when there are fewer and fewer critics, Chicago is very lucky to have Michael in our midst!

I asked Michael if he would be willing to be interviewed for this blog post, and he cheerfully agreed.
Here is the interview....

JFA: What is your concept of the role of an art critic?

My practice as an art critic is what the Italian philosopher of the first half of the twentieth century, Benedetto Croce, called "immanent criticism." By that he meant that the critic should not come to a work or body of work with a set of standards or values that would then be applied to judge the work, but, instead, should seek to get inside the work and re-live it as the artist intended it to be experienced, if at all possible. Having followed that procedure to the best of his or her ability, the critic would then seek to express the experience of that work in words. The way I put it is that the work is a gift given to the viewer from the artist, and I want to honor that gift by experiencing it as much as possible as the artist wants me to appreciate it. I would not have any interest in art if it did not provide me with access to the vision of another person, not my own vision or a vision that I personally prefer. Immanent criticism allows one to grow, and my reviews are meant to help readers to grow and to provide a bridge that the readers can cross to the work so that they can experience it for themselves.

Immanent criticism stands for appreciation and against "gatekeeping," the personal preferences of the critic, judgments based on pre-ordained theories, the attempt to push one kind of art at the expense of others, trendiness, making art subserve political or moral positions, criticism as an excuse for the critic to express his or her own ideas about this or that, and helping out friends at the expense of other artists. All of those have no interest for me; I am in front of the work so that I can receive an infusion of visual intelligence. The great photography theorist Rudolf Arnheim said that photography embodies visual "form at a primary level," and is an independent object of intelligence, that is, visual intelligence (which is not my strong suit). I am grateful to photographers, who have visual intelligence, for expanding my experience. To repeat, I would not want to be a critic on any other terms. I do not favor one genre over another, one technique over another, one form of representation over another in my reviewing - I take each on its own terms. Certainly, I have my own personal preferences, but what possible good could it do for readers or artists if I paraded my personal preferences in print? After all, they are simply personal preferences and everyone has personal preferences; mine have no higher standing than anyone else's. What I can do is to use my accumulating knowledge of photography to gain access to a work and then dwell within it as intensely as I can.

JFA : When did you first know you were going to become an art critic?

In 1989 I began a sabbatical, which meant that I was not teaching in my specialty, which is/was political philosophy. At that time I felt that I had accomplished everything I had set out to do in philosophy, which was to figure out and put into writing and have published a philosophy of life that was true to the way I was living. I was at what I call a "zero point" at which "everything is possible and nothing is necessary" with "nowhere to go and anything to do." So, what to do? I hit upon the idea of learning about something that was mildly distasteful to me just to see what would happen - and I chose photography. So, through the summer and fall of 1989, I took pictures, read about photography, and visited galleries. I read an essay by Edward Weston in which he said that he kept a journal of every photographic encounter that he had, and I decided to do the same. One day in February, 1990 I was sitting in the old Houk Gallery in River North writing my journal after viewing an exhibit by Alexandr Rodchenko, and when I read it over I realized that I had written a review. I decided to walk it over to NewCity, my favorite newspaper at that time and now, and met the editor and owner, Brian Hieggelke, who was stationed right in the front room. He looked over my review, said he would publish it, and offered to let me write reviews for NewCity every issue. I've been doing so ever since with a few absences due to illness. My relationship with NewCity has been a highlight of my life; without NewCity, I would never have become a photography critic. That's Chicago - a place where you don't have to be in a clique and don't have to have connections to strike off in a new direction and get encouragement.

JFA: What were the experiences and influences that led to your being an art critic?

As I just explained, there were no conscious influences that led me to become an art critic. Leaving out my psycho-history, through which I have made sense of what happened in retrospect (but that again is personal), the big influence was philosophy. I had read all of Croce's major works before I made my photography experiment, so it wasn't difficult for me to see that immanent criticism was the way that I would go.

JFA: What have been the more challenging aspects of being an art critic?

There have been no challenging aspects of being an art critic from the get-go until now. To me, it's pure enjoyment. What's not to enjoy about receiving and appreciating gifts from people with visual intelligence, and then putting the experience I have into words? I have the freedom to engage the work on its own terms - it's always new and exciting. That's why I'm into my twenty-fourth year of doing it.

JFA: Can you identify any shifts in your perspective as an art critic over the years?

My perspective as an art critic has not changed a bit. Why should it? Immanent criticism always remains the same; it shifts on its own accord from one work and one genre to the next, always open to fresh developments and artists, always alert to the nuances in new manifestations of an extant genre and an established artist.

JFA: How has being an art critic influenced your own photography?

In order to get into taking pictures in 1989, I chose the simplest photographic problem that I could think of - the recording of a two-dimensional still subject in daylight. Aaron Siskind's wall abstractions were crucial for me in showing me how that simple problem could be worked on to get intense (at least for me) results. It led me to graffiti, distressed sides of railroad cars, peeling posters, and so on. I won't claim to be an accomplished photographer in the slightest, but I can say that shooting flat subjects in open-air seclusion has led me to powerful zenlike experiences in which vision narrows to what is in the view finder and one's consciousness is consumed by it. At times the subject seems to become animated and to "dance." It's a "natural high," for sure.

JFA : How would you characterize the current Chicago photographic art scene?

I have been a great lover of the Chicago photographic art scene through all the years I've been part of it. It has always been vibrant. Grassroots galleries continue to pop up, there are always commercial galleries showing a variety of work from local photographers and from the four corners of the earth, there are big and little museums, galleries in businesses, galleries in community centers, university and college galleries - you name it. There are great people to meet if you go to openings. There is that welcoming and open Chicago spirit. There are independent centers of creation rather than a single establishment. When it comes to the Chicago photographic art scene, it's "sweet home Chicago." 

JFA : Now you know why Michael is such a gem. He is one of the few people I know who really sees clearly AND lives in "sweet home Chicago!"

Multiple Exposures Exhibition at Bridgeport Art Center

"The privilege of a life time is becoming more of who you are."
                                                                                         Joseph Campbell

This quote guides the focus of a photographic critique group that  I began 5 years ago....
I envisioned the group  as a way of providing a forum for sharing work with the goal of helping each photographer further refine their personal vision... Once the work is  fully realized, suggestions are offered up on how to send it out into the world. 

I am happy to announce that the group will be have an exhibition on May 17th at the Bridgeport Art Center. The artists included in the show are  Ilze Arajs, Nelson Armour, Susan Annable, Art Fox, Alan Leder, Janet Mesic - Mackie, Yvette Meltzer,  Mary Rafferty, Neil Spinner and Jessica Tampas and yours truly.

The exhibit is going to be very exciting. The show focuses on nature and humanity. The work spans psychological renderings of complete strangers, roller derby life, discarded dolls, in addition to abstractions from nature and architecture.  This compelling exhibition  will be shown in the beautiful exhibition space at the Bridgeport Art Center.
Here is a sampling...

Alan Leder ~ Architectural Elements
Ilze Arajs ~ Holding fast in ebb and flow
Janet Mesic-Mackie ~ Horses
Jane Fulton Alt ~ The Burn
Nelson Armour ~ Park Avenue Beach

Jessica Tampas ~ Unbroken

Yvette Meltzer ~ Revolutions

Mary Rafferty ~ Derby Life
Neil Spinner ~ I Am The Other

Susan Annable ~ Memento Mori
Art Fox ~ Facing the Homeless

There will also be a presentation on Thursday,  May 30th from  7-9pm on the life and work of Vivian Maier, presented by Author Rich Cahan and master printer Ron Gordon. 

I have personally been working on two books that will be released in late September on the burn. The "trade" book will be published by Kehrer Verlag in Germany.

I have also collaborated with Chicago book artist, Teresa Pankratz, on a limited edition artist made book titled


fire /smoke

I am thrilled that the artist book will be available for viewing at the Bridgeport Art Center show. We have been working all winter on the structure and design and are currently going into full production. The "book" (more like an object) will be available in a limited edition of 18. All pre-orders will include a signed copy of the trade book.

Hope to see you at the Bridgeport Art Center on Friday, May 17th from 7 - 10pm....
Refreshments and live music by Raman Hen. Come celebrate the arts with us!

1200 W. 35th Street
Dan Ryan to 35th Street, west about a mile 
(free parking on north side of building)

Guggenheim Fellows 2013

The list just came out...
and guess what...Deborah Luster is one of the fellows!
It is well deserved....
Here are other photographers...


Scott Conarroe
Bruce Gilden
Sharon Harper
Michael Kolster
Deana Lawson
Deborah Luster
Christian Patterson
Gary Schneider
Mike Sinclair
Alec Soth
Valerio Spada 

Deborah Luster ~ Tooth for an Eye

One of the many pleasures of New Orleans is the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The photography curator and artist in his own right , Richard McCabe, has produced some stunning shows in the last few years. Most recently is the Tooth for an Eye : A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish by Deborah Luster. The exhibit took my breath away in its depth and breadth of handling the difficult and painful issue of violence in our cities. This is very important work and incredibly well done. 

Grid of Deborah's photographs at the Ogden

Gun violence is a subject that I once entertained exploring but did not have the stomach for it. As an alternative  I decided to start a blog to document daily shootings "In My Backyard."  After two days I had to stop as it was too disturbing to start my day knowing who died and where the most recent act of violence occurred. I am deeply grateful to Deborah for creating this body of work that so eloquently discusses a very dark side of the human condition.

In Deborah's words...

"With a homicide rate nearly ten times 
the national average, New Orleans stands today, as it did as far back as the 1850"s as the homicide capital of the United States." 

"TOOTH FOR AN EYE:A CHOROGRAPHY OF VIOLENCE IN ORLEANS PARISH is a project that attempts to take a very close look at something that no longer exists - an invisible population - in the only way in which one can approach such things, obliquely and through reference. The result is a photographic archive documenting contemporary and historical homicide sites in the city of New Orleans and is as well, an exploration of the empty, dizzying space at the core of violence."

"The images that populate the archive were collected with an 8x10 Deardorff field camera. The exposures in these photographs are long, and much of the action-mechanical, botanical, and human -is rendered as spectral blur, a physical representation of time like some isotropic fog, depth without defined dimension."

"Chorogrpahy is a form of geography that describes the inherent attributes of a place. These attributes may be physical, sociological, conceptual, metaphysical, or sensory. Tooth for an Eye not only documents sites where violence has occurred, it also finds itself documenting the city's physical loss as her unique material culture crumbles and transforms following generations of political failure. Many buildings that served as backgrounds for violent death have disappeared since they were photographed for this project."

 "In the atavistic culture of New Orleans, so alive with the historic, symbolic, and sensual, there exists a porousness between the worlds of the living and the dead, where time bends and flows, and neither world lives or dies free of the other's space or influence."

 These portholes have color video, one for family and one for friends...underlining the fact that many lives are at stake here,  not just those of the victims or the perpetrator.

You can check Deborah's website to see where else the work has been exhibited.
Deborah's book, Tooth for an Eye, is available on Amazon.

The Magic of New Orleans

I am just back from a full 10 days in New Orleans. The city never, ever fails to disappoint. Little did I know when I scheduled the trip that  St. Patricks day and Super Sunday would fall during that time. New Orleans is notorious for their masked parades and celebrations. Learning more about the Mardi Gras Indians and their long history was a gift. When I served in the Lower Ninth Ward post Katrina, I kept hearing how all the artifacts, costumes and traditions were "gone." I am happy to report the tradition is back in full force and quite spectacular.  

Wondering what this is all about?

Text  is provided byWikipedia...

Mardi Gras Indians are African-American Carnival revelers in New Orleans, Louisiana, who dress up for Mardi Gras and other special occasions in suits influenced by Native American ceremonial apparel.

 The idea of letting loose and embracing traditional African music and dance is a backbone of the Mardi Gras Indians practice.
Aside from Mardi Gras Day, the most significant day for the Mardi Gras Indians is their Super Sunday. The New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council always has their Indian Sunday on the third Sunday of March, around St. Joseph's Day. 
Mardi Gras Indian suits cost thousands of dollars in materials alone and can weigh upwards of one hundred pounds. A suit usually takes between six to nine months to plan and complete.

  Each Indian designs and creates his own suit; elaborate bead patches depict meaningful and symbolic scenes. Beads, feathers, and sequins are integral parts of a Mardi Gras Indian suit. 

Collectively, their organizations are called "tribes". There are about 38 tribes. They range in size from a half dozen to several dozen members. The tribes are largely independent, but a pair of umbrella organizations loosely coordinate the Uptown Indians and the Downtown Indians.

If you want to learn more, check out The House of Dance and Feathers website, a cultural museum based on Ronald Lewis's participation in the culture of the Mardi Gras Indians and the keeper of the history.

                           St. Joseph Altar