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Look and Leave:

Photographs and Stories from New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward

As a participant in New Orleans’s “Look and Leave” program, Jane Fulton Alt accompanied Lower Ninth Ward residents back to their homes for the first time since fleeing Hurricane Katrina. Alt’s photographs and stories reflect the intense drama of the epic loss this community endured while highlighting lasting hope and inspiration. It is through Alt’s social worker’s compassion and keen photographer’s eye that we are given a better understanding of what it meant to be a resident of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina.


"The complex emotions that are released in us when we dwell in Alt’s photographs mirror the responses that she observed in the people whom she accompanied in the ‘Look and Leave’ program and then experienced for herself in follow-up visits. If we are attuned to these images, it is inevitable that they will evoke in us reflections on times when parts of our own material selves were devastated and destroyed, how we grieved and remembered, how we loved and raged and sorrowed and even laughed with irony."—Michael A. Weinstein, coauthor of Data Trash: The Theory of Virtual Class

"In Look and Leave, Jane Fulton Alt turns the human heart into a shutter lens. Her photographs and stories of the men, women, and families brought into New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward for a first look at the ruin and spoil of their homes is a pointed, quiet celebration of worthy lives, unbowed by devastation. These pictures will stay inside your heart and remind you how photographs can be, as a little girl sings through her surgical mask, 'This little light of mine.'"—Scott Simon, National Public Radio

"The most photogenic disaster in American history since the Civil War was met by photographers with an averted gaze, precisely because it was so photogenic. Alt realized, however, that photogeny is destiny, and she photographed the catastrophe the way it called for: photogenically. Brilliant head-on gazes at what was crying out there gave her camera a direct pass into the underworld of tragic beauty that was the storm. The pictures are the Destroyer’s official portraits."—Andrei Codrescu, author of The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess

"Once you call New Orleans home, she never leaves your soul. Her flavors, textures, sights, sounds, and, most importantly, her people live and breathe in the heart of every person lucky enough to know that special magic. Jane Fulton Alt’s photos and stories remind us all to rebuild and rejoice."—Chef Emeril Lagasse