They All Axed For You
“They All Axed For You” is my tribute to the New Orleans Tricentennial. New Orleans has been my home now for over twenty years, which is longer than I have ever lived anywhere. The reason is simple: I fell in love. The history, the food, the people, the architecture, the decadence, the late night horns blowing from barges and trains along the Mississippi. The cracks in the sidewalks, the crumbling graveyards, the shops and restaurants that only open when they feel like opening, the bars that stay open all night.The off-key calliope music that comes drifting through your window, hauntingly, when you are oddly nowhere near the river - I love every detail. The inspiration for this show began with this love of Nola, and some very strong images I saw in dreams.
One image titled “Procession” depicts Audubon Zoo animals lined up in pairs on a path through the large Live Oaks. In a dream that came to me the day after my mother passed away, she and I were walking through the animals as though on our way to the heavens, they were guiding us to a light.
Another image titled “Elephants Storming the Mississippi” is exactly as I dreamt it - elephants slowly and determinedly trudging through water in a somewhat ominous manner. Once I put these dreams together, I realized they occurred in two of my favorite and most iconic spots of New Orleans. It became the basis of my show: the beasts of the Audubon Zoo have a day pass and are hanging out in all of my favorite spots. It was the perfect way to marry my tribute to the Tricentennial, my favorite locations in New Orleans for settings, and some colorful local characters for models.
I had a wonderful time choosing ten more beloved and iconic spots around town, and then deciding which animals would be frolicking, lounging or stalking about in these environments. Monkeys in the Napoleon House. The white alligator at the Sazerac Bar. A gorilla at the Columns. I have been entertaining myself from start to finish while creating these images; they truly make me smile. I purposefully replicated the state of dream-like imagery to match my visions. I endeavored to achieve a sense of timelessness in these photos by shooting my locations tediously with no, or little, sign of human life. Timelessness is not only an ongoing obsession in my photography but also, to me, the very essence of New Orleans.
Soirée D’Evolution Tableaux Vivants et Nature Mortes
I was inspired by the Dutch Masters for this show, especially the grisly Nature Mortes, in whose titles I found a double entendre with some of the grisly imagery. I began with still lifes from my own collection of oddities, but then fell down a rabbit hole of research to tell the story of a secret society party in 1873 New Orleans that turns decadent and deadly. I then delved into the world of Tableaux Vivants and their place in New Orleans secret krewes and societies of the past. Each print is four feet by six feet and tells it’s own story, which links to the next. There are handmade books that include all of the imagery and stories to accompany the show. This has been my greatest adventure in photography and although each tableaux is fictitious, they are all based on historical truths. As they say, the devil is in the details.
My first solo show featured loose women, unkempt graveyards, and musicians in various states of cognizance. I can only say I am drawn to, and find beauty in these people and places. I shot in black and white because I love the ambiguity of time encapsulated. Once a friend overheard an octogenarian claim one of my portraits was of her in the St. Louis Cemetery, as a young girl. These are the things that inspire me. I often rely on the kindness of friends (and sometimes strangers) to pose for my photos; their beauty and character is what also inspires me.
These works comprised my first gallery showing. I created lightboxes with black and white ethereal polaroids of women from an era past, complete with tasseled pull switches and some with velvet curtains. I have no idea what inspired me to do these: sometimes a vision appears in my head and I have to execute it. I do know the city of New Orleans was at the heart of it.
When I was very little, my father used to sail us out to remote islands off of North Carolina to picnic and collect treasures. These treasures would range from fresh scallops and beautiful shells to entire rabbit skeletons, sitting undisturbed as though ready to hop away. But my favorite treasures to find washed ashore were the old bottles. Often blue glass, and usually covered in barnacles, they spoke of exotic adventures out of the past, someone trapped somewhere; a message in a bottle. For some reason the vision of girls in bottles, adrift at sea in bottles has been stuck in my head for the past two years. I finally decided I had to let them out of my head and onto paper. They are the message in the bottle, the treasure, and the trapped mystery all in one. I have always loved the play of water, sometimes turbulent, sometimes looking like beautiful waves washing in from the Caribbean, and have incorporated that in my photos, letting the luminous mystery of the deep blue seas star equally. Although the photos seem to be from oceans worldwide, I call them my Mississippi Mermaids. Besides loving the movie, they were all photographed here in New Orleans: what other mermaid would travel in a bottle?
These photographs are from my wanderings in New Orleans and France. From follies to fountains, misty castle grounds in the Loire Valley to the birds of Audubon, they are all visions that catch my eye. The one thing that ties our lands together is our French history, which always lends an eye towards beauty.
I am obsessed with anything that glows. Neon beer signs, the moon and stars, and most impossible to me, sea life. I can only say I was thrilled when I found that I had captured these sea creatures in all of their glorious luminosity.
Six Sides of A Die
When you own a bevy of human skulls, it’s only natural to play with them occasionally.
On editing the shots, I somehow ended up with one great shot each of many combinations, happening to be one through six skulls. My song-writing partner Dava Nasr came up with amazing music and lyrics for a song she titled Six Sides of a Die, but will not let us record it, much to my dismay. I’m stealing the title for now, giving it new life in death, and credit, of course.
Living in New Orleans, I have fallen in love with the enormous and ancient Live Oaks. I photograph them continuously, amazed at their branches reaching across boulevards and sometimes dipping down to make benches. On special occasions those lucky enough to have a yard full of them dress them up with lights to everyone’s delight. I love the abstract patterns they make and the reinforced magical transition that occurs from day to night.