29.11.06

The following series in The Katrina Collection came to be when I received a request from the Mississippi Development Authority to create pieces for twenty journalists from six Western European nations who were to be touring the coast. I was very happy to have been chosen to represent my state, and thrilled to be creating a new series. The circumstances dictated that the pieces must be basically two dimensional and small enough to easily fit in a suitcase. After meeting those requirements, I had free rein to create.

I decided that each piece had to be loaded with symbolism. I chose various elements to convey several different ideas. Each piece has at least one rusty nail or screw. These represent all that was left of so many homes along the coast. Each piece also contains at least one piece of some shattered mirror tiles which were taken from a smashed disco ball which I found on the beach in Waveland. These elements recall the beauty of our lost homes. Tarnished coins recovered from my back yard adorn each one as well; these represent the overwhelming financial burden caused by the storm. The coins have a double meaning however; I chose pennies, with their portrait of Abraham Lincoln, to also represent the best of my country and our determination to overcome our present difficulties. The pieces also include keys, strips of wood and metal, and various other detritus from Katrina's wrath.

Each piece contains a different image of the storm. These images are from photos which I took in the weeks following Katrina. All of these pictures are etched into my brain and bring forth some very painful memories. The images have been distressed, altered with acrylic paint, and mounted on pieces of plexiglass which I scavenged from a debris pile. On the back side of the plexiglass, I have mounted segments of stories written by my dear friend Ellis Anderson. Ellis began collecting stories at the same time I started collecting debris, and her work is powerful and moving. Her stories may be accessed at http://katrinapatina.blogspot.com. The titles of each piece in the series are taken from the stories which are part of each piece.

Finally, I layered each piece with fragments of paintings, old photos, torn fabric, book covers, pieces of paper, and other bits and pieces. All of these elements, as well as the plexiglass and plywood supports, were recovered from piles of storm debris.

My thanks to Mary Straton Smith and Kristen McCaskill of the Mississippi Development Authority, Tourism Division, for this terrific opportunity.

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