Katrina Witness: Linda Nix Photo Essay (Hattiesburg, MS)

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        Red and chrome cadillac tailfin with two projecting stop lights

Pink Cadillac Couch, Fats Domino's studio, New Orleans. Photo by Linda Nix

Mississippi's Hattiesburg Arts Council received an NEA emergency relief grant of $5,000 to provide assistance to individual artists in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. One of those artists was Gulfport, Mississippi, photographer Linda Nix who attended a photography workshop to document the devastation in coastal Mississippi and Louisiana.

"I would like to say that I was honored and thrilled to receive the grant to go to the workshop. Things had been pretty bleak around here since Katrina, and the arts had taken quite a beating. Galleries and museums had closed, and local artists didn’t have many places to exhibit. Having a chance to attend the workshop and enhance my photography skills was a renewing experience.

"I must say the arts started coming back immediately. Even though many artists lost their studios, their homes their equipment, their supplies, and their places to exhibit and sell, art found a way. We discovered that people who had lost everything missed the art they had in their homes, and they couldn’t wait to replace it.

"The first of November, after the August 30 storm, brought back the huge Peter Anderson Art Festival in Ocean Springs. Some of us wondered if we should be out selling our art when there were people living in tents on slabs on what was left of their property, so we went into the festival with mixed emotions. What happened was amazing! People from all over came amidst pouring rain, dashing from tent to tent, and were thrilled to be able to replace some of their lost art. More than one person said to me, 'I’m buying this even though I have no place to put it now.' Then they would tell me their story about how they had lost everything. Their soul needed art in order to start the recovery process."

Linda Nix, October 2006