Lori Waselchuk returned to Louisiana with her family in 2005, just months before Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast. Katrina and subsequent hurricanes consumed her practice as an artist and community activist for the next five years. She worked on two independent projects, Bridges
and Grace Before Dying
. Waselchuk also helped build the New Orleans Photo Alliance
, founded by a diverse group of photographers who joined forces in 2006 to create unity and opportunity for photographers in the Gulf South.
Waselchuk will present her project, Bridges of New Orleans
(2005–2010), as well as talk about the creation of the New Orleans Photo Alliance, and the importance of artists supporting one another in a crisis.
Each Thursday, 7pm EST, PPAC will present a lecture by an award-winning, dynamic artist and journalist who uses photography to respond to current personal, political, and social issues.
Katrina’s Third Anniversary (Percy Francis as L’il Chief of the Comanche Hunters), New Orleans, 2008
Lori Waselchuk is a visual storyteller whose work is a simultaneous inquiry into the lived experiences/poetic bodies of humans and the systems they inhabit, contest, and construct. Waselchuk creates novel forms of collaboration, drawing from many disciplines and resources, to create experiences that describe and convene community. Her work is exhibited internationally and is part of many collections including the New Orleans Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art and South African National Gallery. Waselchuk also curates and coordinates exhibitions and special projects that prioritize creative social engagement. Most notable is Grace Before Dying (2007 – 2017), a collaborative photographic documentary about a hospice program in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Most recently, Waselchuk developed and coordinated PPAC’s Women’s Mobile Museum (2018 – 2020) with South African artist Zanele Muholi and ten Philadelphia women and femmes. Waselchuk is a recipient the following grants and awards: 2014 Leeway Foundation Transformation Award, 2012 Pew Fellowship for the Arts, 2010 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities grant, 2009 Aaron Siskind Foundation’s Fellowship, 2008 Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project grant, 2007 PhotoNOLA Review Prize, and the 2004 Southern African Gender and Media Award.
A cooler tied to a small chimney and a hole chopped into a roof are evidence of an escape from the floodwaters that tore through the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. A year after Hurricane Katrina and flooding decimated New Orleans, many neighborhoods remain silent and empty. More than half of the city’s residents have not returned. The clean-up has been slow. And the reminders of lives destroyed are everywhere. Water lines, military markings, holes in roofs, FEMA trailers and debris have become part of the new New Orleans landscape. These scars and memories from the storm and floods create a mood of uncertainty as the city tries to recover.