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Children’s Art Exhibition Marks 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

A stirring collection of artwork, “Drawing on Katrina: Mississippi Children Respond to the Storm” was first assembled in the summer of 2006 and featured approximately 300 works of art from local school children in kindergarten through the fifth grade. Thirty-two of those works have been chosen from the original collection and comprise the 10th anniversary exhibit, Gulf Coast edition, which can be viewed August 21-31 in the Gulf Coast Library on the Gulf Park campus. A reception, which is open to the public, is scheduled for August 24, 2015, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Following Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005, the Exhibitions Committee for the University’s Museum of Art (currently the Gallery of Art and Design) began organizing an exhibit of artwork created by children as a venue for expression and healing. By the summer of 2006, hundreds of works were featured in the original exhibit.

“The Katrina storm shook Mississippians young and old to the core, leaving many numb. The art of children can be so honest and direct, and so full of love; it can cut through barriers we sometimes construct to keep difficult emotions from surfacing. I felt a show of children's art about Katrina could bring forth solace, catharsis, even joy—in spite of the horror and raw reality of the subject matter,” Gorzegno said.

Gorzegno added that another healing aspect of this project was the bringing together of people at a time when many were displaced from their homes and communities, in order to create this art exhibition and share the remarkable insights and bravery of young Mississippians.

Museum director Mark Rigsby says the committee felt it was important to create an archive of such a powerful and historically significant body of work. “Hurricane Katrina was devastating to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and was a traumatic experience for communities and families throughout the southern half of the state,” Rigsby said. He added that the visual arts, most specifically drawing and painting, provide a direct means to express that which may be difficult to communicate with words.

“Children truly have a natural ability to capture an experience and convey it with art. While many of the works do convey the terrible experience of the storm and its aftermath, others depict a community working together to rescue, recover and rebuild,” Rigsby said. “There are images of people being airlifted to safety, ice and water delivery trucks, emergency response crews and construction workers and people working together to repair the roofs of damaged homes.”

Organizers feel the anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on ourselves, our communities, our families and friends, and the truly important things in our lives. It is hoped that some of the artists will be able to visit the show and attend the reception on August 24.

The collection is available for research purposes and is also available for loan to qualified exhibition venues. For more information, contact the Museum of Art by sending an e-mail message to artmuseum@usm.edu. For information on the Gulf Coast Library exhibit and reception, please contact Betty Shaw at Betty.Shaw@usm.edu or call 228-214-3450.

 
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