The Ninth

I first photographed these streets almost ten years ago. In the aftermath. I had come to New Orleans to serve as a clinical social worker in the city’s post-Katrina "Look and Leave" program. The Lower Ninth was the epicenter of the storm's haphazard fury. A neighborhood of more than 14,000 residents before the storm, now houses only an estimated 3,000, in a 1.6 square mile area bounded by Florida Avenue, St Bernard Parish, St. Claude Avenue and the Industrial Canal.   

I have returned many times. Summoned, it seems.  Called back by lingering ghosts of that devastation to mark the Lower Ninth’s slow and heroic transfiguration. And always aware of the limitations of any one story, of any one set of eyes.

What was whole is now torn. Where house after house once bumped shoulders in raucous juke-joint jamborees, many now stand solitary, as if wallflowered. But the fabric of community that remains, after being darned and patched, speaks to the enduring mystery and tenacity of a singular place and people.

Thus, under the cover of night, at the intersection of presence and absence, of the past and the future, I remain captivated by spirits manifest in the dwellings of the Lower Ninth: their menacing beauty, so fierce and proud, their stoic grace, their tender jasmine tranquility...