Thursday, July 24, 2008
Katrina photographs on display at Gammill Gallery
Faces of despair. Telephone poles wrapped around fences. A concrete bridge broken into pieces. These are some of the images portrayed by noted Vicksburg photographer Melody Golding in her national traveling exhibit “Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember.”
The photos are on display through the end of August at the Gammill Gallery in Barnard Observatory at the University of Mississippi. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.
An opening reception was held at 1 p.m. July 20, helping to kick-off the 35th annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. The conference features five days of lectures and panel discussions exploring how Faulkner’s words have responded to the facts and forces of an evolving world, not so much as reflection or illustration, but as original depiction and interpretation.
Golding went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Sept. 7, 2005, as a volunteer for the American Red Cross. She traveled to the Coast almost monthly for more than a year after the storm, taking thousands of images and recording hours of video oral histories.
“I try to capture in my work a sense not only of timelessness but of grace. And to convey an observance of order out of the usual chaos of visual forms,” Golding said in her artist’s statement. “God has given me this gift to share in what I see in this world as a patient and ardent observer, and also a participant in what I see - the camera being the conduit of expression in my photography.”
More than 50 sepia-toned gelatin prints are accompanied by a 90-minute video with stories of Mississippi women who are survivors of the storm. Operatic soprano Lucia Lynn composed and performed “Song of Katrina” for the video chronicle.
“I created the exhibition in order to perpetuate a constant awareness of this epic disaster in Mississippi and also to show the indomitable spirit of the people of Mississippi, not only to prevail but to endure, in the face of such adversity,” Golding said. “The interest and response given this exhibition has been overwhelming and humbling. People do care about what happened after Katrina even on a national level.”
At the Gammill Gallery, the words of the women also are shown with some of the photographs, including those of Patt Odom of Ocean Springs, who had been in North Carolina during the storm, only to return to see her home had no damage at all. She washed clothes for people in the area who were living in tents across the street.
“I learned a very big lesson during this process,” Odom said. “Life is a boomerang. Whatever you give out and put into action is the very spirit that comes back to you tenfold. I found that my washerwoman activities turned out to be a highly effective way to deal with survivor guilt. It seemed every time I did anything good or worthwhile; it came back to me in so many ways. I was just trying to help others.”
The exhibition, on a small scale, is also in Washington at the Department of Homeland Security in the Congressional Hearing Room on Capitol Hill and will remain there indefinitely.
Golding’s photographs are featured in the book “Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember” (University Press of Mississippi, 2007), a 2008 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters nominee. Included with 70 photographs and accounts by almost 50 Gulf Coast women are essays by Mississippi authors Ellen Gilchrist and Mary Anderson Pickard. Royalties from the book sales benefit the Artist Relief Fund of the Mississippi State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Golding is a 2008 Mississippi Governor’s Award nominee, a 2008 Humanities Council recipient and a 2007 Congressional Award winner.
For more information, go to www.melodygolding.com/katrina.html.
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