A year and a half after Hurricane Katrina, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will host the opening of a national touring exhibition that features Gulf Coast artists and focuses on responses to the disaster.
Artists have always gone after and tackled difficult subjects, says Arthur Roger, the New Orleans gallery owner who organized the exhibit. Its just a natural process of inspiration.
Some of the paintings, drawings and photographs in Katrina: Catastrophe and Catharsis represent the hurricane in literal terms. Others clearly evolved from emotional responses. But each is evocative.
Artists give the emotional link to these events that are hard to describe, says Roger, who himself was displaced by the hurricane.
Some of the work contains humor, Roger explains, while other pieces hold a certain power and beauty, capturing images of twisted metal and the disorganized, flooded interiors of New Orleans homes.
Many displaced artists left their studios behind, Roger says, and made do with what was available. When they returned to New Orleans, they were excited to work in studios again, and were enthusiastic about producing works from their struggles.
Not everyone in the affected areas was ready for such an exhibition, however.
People in New Orleans were gun shy about the work it was the people coming through [the city] who wanted to see what was happening with art, he says.
Colorado Springs, of course, has been intimately involved with the aftermath of Katrina since the first of more than 600 evacuees came to town. But it was Rogers connection to FAC president Michael De Marsche that brought the artwork here for its debut.
The exhibition includes news photographs that provide what Roger describes as the bridge to the remarkable artwork in the exhibition, artwork that is representative of the cultural diversity of New Orleans.
The exhibitions opening reception will feature a performance by Sheps New Orleans Heard featuring Kid Merv, a jazz group comprised of French Quarter musicians who were also displaced by the hurricane. In addition to the show, there will be a panel discussion on the effects of the hurricane on the New Orleans art scene, moderated by De Marsche.
Arthur and the artists from New Orleans are incredibly accomplished in their fields, and they know the devastation and the anguish of Katrina firsthand, says De Marsche. Their unique perspectives will make for a lively panel the first true, serious discussion of Katrina in the art world.
Katrina: Catastrophe and Catharsis
FAC Modern, 121 S. Tejon St.
Exhibition runs March 9 through April 29
Opening reception: Friday, March 9, 5-8 p.m.
Gallery tour with Arthur Roger, Saturday, March 10, 1 p.m. Tickets required.
Shep's New Orleans Heard featuring Kid Merv, also playing March 10, 6-11:30 p.m.
Panel discussion with Arthur Roger and artists, Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m., at the Fine Arts Center Main, 30 W. Dale St. Free tickets required.
Gallery admission: free to members, $7.50 for nonmembers; call 634-5583 for more or visit csfineartscenter.org.