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Where the Light Meets the Mud
New Orleans – December, 2005
I wish I had never made these pictures. Or rather that Katrina and her flood had never made them possible. Or that we could all wake up and they and it would disappear. That it would turn out to be just a dark and awful dream.

I made these pictures as a way to try and make sense of this thing that was so incomprehensible. To simply make “beautiful” pictures of such a tragedy would be meaningless and I was looking for something more than that. It came to me that perhaps I was searching not for beauty, but for the “sublime” as it might have been understood by some of the great philosophers: something about facing the mysteries of the natural world – including those horrors we might fear, but which
we must finally embrace.

Where the light meets the mud. In the mud we must finally let go of what is past and
accept loss, no matter how tragic. And no matter the magnitude of any tragedy, we
must know that the light will continue after we are gone.

In an abandoned artists’ studio in the ninth ward in New Orleans I made many of these pictures. A place where talented, accomplished and vital artists lived and worked and which they had suddenly been forced to abandon. Moldy walls, muddy floors, the remains of their belongings tossed and tangled about…. The shingles of the roof had been blown off by Katrina’s winds but the rafters remained. As the sun reached the highest point at mid-day, a splendid clear light pierced through the holes in the roof of this abandoned tragedy – a light that seemed as beautiful, or sublime, as that from the stained glass in any cathedral I could imagine. It was such a startling interruption – almost irreconcilable with the sadness that surrounded us – but in that moment, it could make us forget and remember at the same time.