Joyner Library’s 2012 School of Art and Design Faculty Art Exhibition

“Storm Season: Louisiana’s Disappearing Wetlands”
Opening reception on March 15, 2012 •  5:30 pm  •  Exhibit Gallery, 2nd floor

Featuring Photographic work by:
DANIEL KARIKO, Area Coordinator for Photography

This series of photographs represents a long-term investigation of disappearing wetlands and barrier islands in south Louisiana, due to human and natural activity.

I started photographing in Barataria- Terrebonne National Estuary in South Louisiana in the summer of 1999. Since the beginning of my project, the area suffered a number of major hurricanes including Katrina and Rita, and recent large oil spill catastrophe. The pinhole photographs in this series range from 2006 until May of 2011, just as the last of the visible oil from the Deepwater Horizon platform was being cleaned from barrier islands.

Louisiana is experiencing the highest rate of coastal erosion in America, losing about one hundred yards of land every thirty minutes- land loss the size of a football field every half-hour. The barrier islands of Southeast Louisiana are some of the youngest and most unstable landforms on earth. They average 5000 years in age, and are rapidly changing shape and disappearing due to the man-altered flow of the Mississippi delta. Timbalier Island, for example, averaged 20m/year towards Northwest, during the last century (U.S. geological survey). During the early 1800’s some of the barrier islands served as summer resorts to wealthy families from New Orleans. In 1856 a devastating hurricane hit Isle Dernieres causing great loss of life and property, and nearly splitting the island in half. Since then more than a dozen major storms, including Katrina, changed the geography of the coast. Today, all except Grand Isle are sand bars with a little more than skeletal remnants of industry and a few deteriorating fishing camps. These Islands represent the “First Line of Defense” against large hurricanes.

In addition to environmental and political landscape, this series of photographs addresses the cultural concerns of local population. Cajuns of Louisiana comprise one of the oldest, most unique, and historically significant ethnic cultures in the United States. It is also a culture that is under a dire threat, simply because the land they occupy is physically disappearing. This project combines the cultural documentary with environmental concerns by presenting the Louisiana wetlands issues in context of our global cultural-environmental situation.

The global environmental concerns that place Louisiana in center of world’s attention make this project relevant and timely. Our, often adversarial relationship with the world outside ultimately reveals our inability to adapt to the natural process. These photographs set out to illustrate the results of such failed relations.