Published: Aug 27, 2008 07:41 AM
Modified: Aug 27, 2008 07:41 AM
Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005.
On the eve of the third anniversary of the storm, the Center for the Study of the American South will open an exhibition of Baton Rouge photographer Thomas Neff's acclaimed photographs and narratives of the tenacious New Orleans residents who "held out and hung on" after Hurricane Katrina.
Neff will be available to discuss his work at a special Meet the Artist reception on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Love House and Hutchins Forum, 410 East Franklin Street.
As a volunteer in the early days of flooding, Neff witnessed firsthand the confusion and suffering that gripped New Orleans, as well as the persistence and strength of those who stuck it out.
Neff subsequently spent forty-five days interviewing and photographing the city's holdouts.
His book collecting those images and stories, "Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina," is a heartbreaking but compelling look at the true impact of the disaster.
Neff arrived in New Orleans on Sept. 4, 2005, while the city was locked in a death struggle with the waters pouring through the breached levees. He stayed for weeks, accompanying search and rescue crews and taking photographs, and he found himself especially drawn to the "holdouts," those who refused to leave even when given the chance.
"I began to realize that many of the people who stayed in the city during the hurricane had compelling stories to tell and that I in turn sensed it was not a chance occurrence that I had been given an opportunity to help them tell those stories," he writes in the book. "And so, I began in earnest to seek out the forgotten people."
FOCUS Magazine placed "Holding Out and Hanging On" at No. 4 on its list of the "Top 10 bestselling photography books."
Neff is professor of art at Louisiana State University, where he has taught for the past 25 years.
His work will be on view at the Love House and Hutchins Forum, from Thursday to September 30. Regular viewing hours are Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
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