Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans, 2007
Archival Pigment Print
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The following photographs are from a series begun in 2003 about New Orleans and the surrounding area. As a visual artist, I was trying to understand what it was about that city and its environs that I found so beguiling. In the beginning, I was more intrigued with the elements of the city that made it unique: the architecture, the music scene, and the special blend of cultural diversity that formed its heritage. Later it became the ever-changing cast of indelible New Orleans characters. A unique and unusual constituency that seemed unwilling or unable to live elsewhere.
When I returned to the city in November following Katrina, it was staggering. I began to wander the often empty streets trying to make some visual sense out of the chaos and devastation. Slowly, I realized it wasn’t the physical aftermath of the event that formed the compelling aspect for me; it was the character of the people who were in the process of surviving it. I began to interview people I’d meet, and to record their experiences, their personal history, or my interaction with them in a journal. Later, I added parts of the journal to the printed landscapes or portraits, and it expanded the way people related to them. Soon the journal entries and my personal commentary became inseparable from the final prints.In returning to New Orleans in April, I began a second phase of exploration. While continuing to photograph and record individual stories, I also began to look at the scope and process of the city’s recovery from Katrina. While Katrina itself may be old news, the story of the recovery is on going and far reaching. It spans political, economic and interstate boundaries. Part of that story is here in Portland where many victims of the storm have migrated, and I’m attempting to address that aspect of the project between visits to the gulf coast. The symbiosis between Portland and New Orleans is a bit mysterious, but seems to exist non-the-less. We identify with New Orleanians, I imagine, because they seems to be an established, if somewhat seedier, variation of the independent social maverick to which many Oregonians aspire…. Keeping Portland Weird, and all that.
Stewart Harvey received an MA in 1971 from Portland State University. He’s taught English and photography at Mt. Hood and Portland Community Colleges and Portland State University. After attending many workshops including the Ansel Adams Yosemite workshop, he founded the Portland Photographic Workshops in 1982. Out of that eight-year series evolved a photographer’s critique group known as the Portland Photographer’s Forum, a group that continues to flourish. In 1984, Stewart left teaching to pursue a career in professional photography. He is currently a Board Member and Secretary of the Photography Council of the Portland Art Museum.
Stewart’s work has been featured in dozens of solo and group exhibitions as well as in numerous private collections. He has photographs in the collections of in The Portland Art Museum, The Visual Chronicle of Portland, The Universities of Oregon and Colorado; New Orleans Museum of Art; The Portland and Tacoma Biennial Exhibits. Stewart’s work has also appeared in numerous publications including Wired magazine, Life magazine, Northwest Magazine (cover), City Magazine of San Francisco, Saturday Night magazine (Canada), Valakuva magazine (Finland), OM magazine (Russia), PM Magazine (Germany). Images in books include: The Burning Man Book, 1997; two novel Covers: The Road to Zena and Yoga for People Who Can’t be Bothered to Do It. Recent publications include: Katrina Exposed, New Orleans Museum of Art, 2006; Burning Book, August, 2007, as well as a twenty-print portfolio in the Fall ’07 issue of LensWork Quarterly.
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