Debbie Flemming Caffery and Louisiana

It all started with this photograph...

Harry's Hands

I saw it at the Catherine Edelman Gallery years ago in Chicago and it took my breath away. It was such a strong, soulful image.
I heard via other photographers that the artist, Debbie Flemming Caffery, was offering workshops out of her home in Breaux Bridge, Louisana. I signed up. I was her only student and we had a blast of a week.It was the first time I had attended a workshop and the first time spending time in Louisiana. Needless to say, I fell in love head over heels with all things Louisiana!

street art, New Orleans December 2011

So much of my experience there was about the culture, the food, the people and the climate. There are times I wish I were a writer as that experience and the multiple visits I made since have been seared into my memory and senses. It would take me hours and hours to write eloguently about my many adventures there.

Here are a few photographs from Debbie's Polly series...

© Debbie Flemming Caffery ~ Polly

"An extraordinary photographic project began one day in 1984, when Debbie Fleming Caffery, a Louisiana native, saw Polly, a black woman in her seventies, on the porch of a cabin she'd been driving past for more than a year. The interior was lit only by the sun that came through its small windows and the flow from a fireplace that had left a sooty pall over everything, but it became Caffery's favorite place to visit and photograph. 'You know when you become consumed with a project?', the photographer asks. 'I went there so often and I thought about her so much--I would dream about her. Going to Polly's was like being vacuumed into a feeling of security and warmth. I would rather have gone to her house than any place during those years.' This devotion is evident in the photographs, and it's clearly returned by Polly, who opens herself to the camera." (from Debbie's website).

© Debbie Flemming Caffery ~ from Polly portfolio

...and her Sugar Cane Series

© Debbie Flemming Caffery ~ Sugar Cane fires

I had so many adventures while I was there. They are all coming back to me now because I am headed back to New Orleans and will be going to Breaux Bridge to visit Debbie and take another bayou tour with Norbitt.

The following photographs are just a few of the images I created while I was there...(minus the Look and Leave work from post Katrina)

© Jane Fulton Alt ~ Portrait of Debbie

©Jane Fulton Alt; self portrait created after a visit to the slaughter house which then turned into the series, Matters of the Heart.

Smoking Cotton Gin, who knew smoke and fire were going to figure so prominently in my work back then

If you would ever consider going to Louisiana for Mardi Gras, they do it differently in Cajun country where they go around to houses on horseback looking for the chicken for the gumbo. "Cajun filmmaker Pat Mire gives us an inside look ... Every year before Lent begins, processions of masked and costumed revelers, often on horseback, go from house to house gathering ingredients for communal gumbos in communities across rural southwest Louisiana. The often-unruly participants in this ancient tradition play as beggars, fools, and thieves as they raid farmsteads and perform in exchange for charity or, in other words, "dance for a chicken."

I may not be posting for a couple of weeks...but then maybe I will!

Stay posted.