Debbie Fleming Caffery: Baton Rouge After the Storm
June 5 – August 30, 2015
This exhibition commemorates the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in South Louisiana in August of 2005. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana photographer Debbie Fleming Caffery created a powerful series of photographs of Baton Rouge’s River Center, where the National Guard had been called to manage the surge of people from New Orleans seeking shelter after the storm.
Caffery’s photographs of the River Center have never been shown in Baton Rouge, a city with no public monuments or permanent exhibitions to commemorate Hurricane Katrina. Although Baton Rouge did not witness physical devastation on the scale of other parts of South Louisiana, it was hugely impacted by the storm. The city’s population doubled overnight, and displaced people from New Orleans changed the social, demographic and economic make-up of the city in ways that continue to impact the region today.
Caffery’s photographs of downtown Baton Rouge in the days after the storm show a city in crisis. In her photographs, armed military officials flank distraught citizens crowded into the city’s makeshift shelter, and stranded children search for signs of comfort and hope. During her time in Baton Rouge, Caffery captured moments of great compassion and care alongside scenes of alarming brutality and mistrust. Her photographs offer a window into a time in Baton Rouge’s history often forgotten in the conversation about Hurricane Katrina’s impact in New Orleans.
Debbie Fleming Caffery: Baton Rouge After the Storm brings to Baton Rouge the work of one of Louisiana’s most perceptive and politically attune photographers, and offers the city a new perspective on a moment in its history still in great need of recognition and remembrance. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity for the Baton Rouge community to recall a time of great upheaval, and reflect on the changes to the city that occurred in the wake of the storm.