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The Katrina Decade

Marking 10 years since Hurricane Katrina with a collection of images that depict an altered — yet renewed — city. 

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) will mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with the release of new book The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City, featuring a collection of black-and-white images by David G. Spielman.

Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. The storm and subsequent levee breaches ravaged the city of New Orleans. In the 10 years since, Spielman, a fine-art photographer, freelance photojournalist and New Orleans resident, embraced the traditions of photographers from the Works Progress Administration and Farm Security Administration, documenting subtle changes to his beloved city.

“New Orleans has a melancholy beauty that defies logic and transcends time,” he says. “In the years after Katrina, I explored and continue even now to explore most of the city, trying to capture the city’s story for future generations.”

The Katrina Decade presents a collection of more than 125 haunting images that leave viewers with more questions than answers. Vines creep up the side of a home that could be vacant or occupied. Graffiti mars — or beautifies? — the walls of an abandoned building. Readers must draw their own conclusions.

John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, wrote, “As strangely beautiful as the encroaching vines that still enshroud whole rows of houses ten years after Katrina, Spielman’s astonishing photographs speak with a quiet but forceful eloquence — of devastation and abandonment, of perseverance and renewal.”

The hardcover book includes essays by Spielman, preservationist Jack Davis and photographic historian John H. Lawrence. A free companion exhibition will be on view August 22, 2015–January 9, 2016, at THNOC’s dedicated art gallery.

Photo credit: Lower Ninth Ward; 2013; ©David G. Spielman; from “The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City” (THNOC 2015)

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