The complex emotions that are released in us when we dwell in Alt’s photographs mirror the responses that she observed in the people whom she accompanied in the ‘Look and Leave’ program and then experienced for herself in follow-up visits. If we are attuned to these images, it is inevitable that they will evoke in us reflections on times when parts of our own material selves were devastated and destroyed, how we grieved and remembered, how we loved and raged and sorrowed and even laughed with irony.
Look and Leave: Photographs and Stories from New Orleans's Lower Ninth Wardby Jane Alt
As a participant in New Orleans’s “Look and Leave” program, Jane Fulton Alt accompanied Lower Ninth Ward residents back to their homes for the first time since fleeing Hurricane Katrina. Alt’s photographs and stories reflect the intense drama of the epic loss this community endured while highlighting lasting hope and inspiration. It is through Alt’s social worker’s compassion and keen photographer’s eye that we are given a better understanding of what it meant to be a resident of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina.
In Look and Leave, Jane Fulton Alt turns the human heart into a shutter lens. Her photographs and stories of the men, women, and families brought into New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward for a first look at the ruin and spoil of their homes is a pointed, quiet celebration of worthy lives, unbowed by devastation. These pictures will stay inside your heart and remind you how photographs can be, as a little girl sings through her surgical mask, 'This little light of mine.'
The most photogenic disaster in American history since the Civil War was met by photographers with an averted gaze, precisely because it was so photogenic. Alt realized, however, that photogeny is destiny, and she photographed the catastrophe the way it called for: photogenically. Brilliant head-on gazes at what was crying out there gave her camera a direct pass into the underworld of tragic beauty that was the storm. The pictures are the Destroyer’s official portraits.
Once you call New Orleans home, she never leaves your soul. Her flavors, textures, sights, sounds, and, most importantly, her people live and breathe in the heart of every person lucky enough to know that special magic. Jane Fulton Alt’s photos and stories remind us all to rebuild and rejoice.
- The Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago
- Publication date:
- Center Books on the American South Series
- Product dimensions:
- 8.90(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Meet the Author
Jane Fulton Alt began actively exploring the visual arts while pursuing her career as a clinical social worker. She has studied art and photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and the Evanston Art Center, and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work can be found in many permanent collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and Yale University's Beinecke Library. Find out more about Alt and her work at www.janefultonalt.com.
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This is an intense photo journalistic look at what remains of New Orlean's Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. From a sociologist's perspective, it is a heart-wrenching look at neighborhood destroyed not only by the forces of nature but by the lack of resources that would allow its occupants to rebuild and move forward. This is a beautiful book for the coffee table that is certain to initiate some good conversation about the plight of humanity.