The opening of “Ten” at the Slidell Cultural Center drew artists and members of the community who wanted to see and share their experiences a decade after Hurricane Katrina.
“When asked to host an exhibit this summer for the city of Slidell, our thoughts went immediately to the 10-year anniversary of Katrina,” said Charlotte Collins, director of the Olde Towne Arts Center, which presented the invitational exhibit.
OTAC began in the former Slidell Cleaners after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Olde Towne Slidell area. The nonprofit offered art, literature and media classes to a community eager to tap its creative energy while facing the challenges of rebuilding.
Their signature event was “Draw the Line,” an exhibit that brought out artists whose works had been destroyed, some whose works had survived and others who created their first artworks following the storm for the exhibit. It also reflected the flood line that still adorned the building.
Ten year later, OTAC again called on artists to share where they are in relationship to the storm that defined a period in time for so many.
Collins said the works they selected to exhibit celebrate a diverse range of styles, subject matter, media and journeys from Katrina to now.
Artists include Bill Binnings, Rick Brunner, Keith Dellsperger, Natasha Lovelace Habers, Matt Litchliter, Zac McGovern, Martin Needom, Susan Needom, Candace Page and Russell Whiting.
The artists were present at the opening and shared part of the journey their work has taken since Katrina.
Brunner, of Covington, said he looked at all the trees that were downed and began to gather and create art with it. His work on display, “Fencing,” is made from a 150-year-old sycamore and other trees that fell down on his property.
He called it the proverbial “making lemonade from lemons” and said the loss of trees became “raw material” for his art.
Page said she went to art school but then started a family.
“I didn’t do art until after Katrina,” she said. “Katrina affected all of us; it affected me.”
Susan Needom said that after Katrina, she created works that had to do with family.
“That was most important to me,” she said. Her drawing, “Bear Hunters,” depicts her three youngest brothers and another work in graphite is called “Dress Up Dolls.”
Book artist Habers, a professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, brought students for a photography project and later a book art exhibit with OTAC titled “Topophilia,” which means “love of place.”
Her entry, “Convergence,” is a book with piano wire binding, its pages left blank because “all of you have had your own experience” with Katrina, she said.
OTAC board member Nelle Landry, co-curator of the show, said, “Hopefully, this approach to commemorating the 10-year anniversary will not be so much sad and traumatic but inspiring and hopeful.”
“If you get anything cathartic from this show, then we have liftoff,” she told the crowd.
The “Ten” exhibit will be on display through July 17 at the Slidell Cultural Center Gallery, 2055 Second St., Slidell. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.