Contact: Margaret Saizan
Photographer showcases vanishing landscapes of the Louisiana Coast
Matthew White to Share Visual Story of the Lower Mississippi River Delta
NEW ORLEANS, La. (November 23, 2009) The Port of New Orleans (www.portno.com) will host an exhibit “The End of the Great River: Photographs of the Lower Mississippi River Delta” on December 1st through 18th featuring the work of New Orleans-based photographer Matthew White. Sponsored in part by Plaquemines Parish Economic Development, the exhibit is being held in conjunction with PhotoNOLA, an annual showcase of photography in New Orleans. The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the lobby of the administrative building at the Port of New Orleans. A reception will be held on December 10, 2009 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm and the public is invited to attend.
The showing of White's work will consist of fine art landscape images of the Mississippi River Delta, from Port Sulphur in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana south to the end of the three passes that drain the river into the Gulf of Mexico: Pass a Loutre; South Pass and Southwest Pass
This delta, full of history, culture, and industry, is sparsely populated and rarely seen in detail by outsiders, but is a landscape of vast beauty.
Lower Plaquemines Parish was decimated by Hurricane Katrina, and has quite a long history of fighting coastal erosion with other notable storms of the past. The goal of this photo collection is to raise awareness for the unique beauty of this fragile locale through an artist’s eye and to encourage the creation and preservation of images of the Mississippi River Delta and its disappearing habitat for future generations.
Vanishing at a rate of one football field every fifteen minutes, this region consisting of 3 million acres of coastal wetlands and 40% of the salt marsh in the contiguous United States supports the economy of New Orleans with significant shipping traffic, providing approximately 18% of the United States oil supply and providing 16 % of the US's fisheries harvest. What’s at risk here “is a significant national asset”, said Stan Mathes, Director of Plaquemines Parish Economic Development.
Photography for the project began in the spring of 2000, shot on both black and white film and in color digital and has continued to the present day. In this collection, White has shot nearly every named location in lower Plaquemines Parish and has compiled a sizable collection of documentary-style often contemplative photographs of the most remote areas of the parish.
One such location is Pilottown, where the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association has maintained an outpost for piloting ships for the last 100 years. After it was almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, White returned in April 2008 to photograph this one-of-a-kind town, the last manned outpost on the Mississippi River before you reach the Gulf of Mexico. He was able to document a few pilot houses that were being rebuilt, while the remainder of former homes along the river completely vanished.
“I have captured a rare glimpse of some of the most remote locations on the Louisiana coast”, said White. “The way of life that is so simple and peaceful down there on the Delta is just hanging by a thread. I feel that I can do my part for its preservation by showing what is still beautiful about it; that it is, and always has been, one of the most unique and spellbinding landscapes in the nation. I try to convey ‘sense of place’ in my photos; if the viewer can for one second sense the peace, solitude, and wonder I feel standing in these landscapes, then there would be no question about whether or not the Delta should be preserved."
The exhibition is a part of PhotoNOLA, (www.photonola.org) an annual celebration of photography in the Crescent City, coordinated by the New Orleans Photo Alliance in partnership with museums, galleries and alternative venues citywide. Following its debut at the Port of New Orleans, the exhibit will travel nationally before concluding its tour in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana where it is expected to remain on permanent exhibit there.
For more information go to: www.endofthegreatriver.com.
About Matthew White
Matthew White (www.matthewwhitestudio.com) is a native New Yorker who fell in love with photography at an early age. He has lived and worked as a freelance photographer and musician, after receiving a Bachelor's Degree in music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and a Master's Degree in jazz studies from the University of New Orleans, a summa cum laude graduate. Winner in the Print Center 2008 International Competition, his work has been featured locally in the Grand Isle Juried Art Exhibit, The New Orleans Photo Alliance Elemental/Environmental Space Exhibit, and as part of a permanent museum exhibit for Parks Canada in New Brunswick. White is represented by Big Vision Media (www.bigvisionmedia.com).