Projects 2020-2000 > Katrina Lightboxes The Melancholy of Violent Waters (from Bachelard)

"The Melancholy of Violent Waters"

Three lightboxes made of mouthblown glass, silkscreened and fired pigments, copper foil, solder, zinc calme, wood, electrical parts, box hardware, found objects. They each weigh approximately 25 lbs.

"Vanished": 30”h x 20½”w x 4”d
"See-No-Evil and the Sin of Negligence": 23”h x 28½”w x 4"d
"Perseverance, Brooklyn Swims Home": 30½”h x 23”w x 4”d


After Hurricane Katrina and the flood caused by the failure of the levees, I had to take time off from my commissioned work to create pieces about that horrific event. I designed and fabricated three backlit lightbox pieces in a series that I call “The Melancholy of Violent Waters”, from Gaston Bachelard’s “Water and Dreams”.

“Vanished” contains a photo-silkscreened image of a page from a friend’s photo album, which no longer has photos; the photos are completely washed away, only the page holders remain. It also has illustrations of slime mold by Ernst Haeckel, and the wood frame has my handwritten engraved excerpts from Bachelard.

“See-No-Evil and the Sin of Negligence” contains the monkey with hands over eyes, a destroyed home from the Lower Ninth Ward, and wave patterns from Japanese stencil designs. The wood frame is embellished with ruined keyhole plates and shutter slats from the destroyed homes.

“Perseverance, Brooklyn Swims Home”, tells the story of a dog who found his way back home on his own, got onto his rooftop and was later reunited with his family. It includes the Perseverance Building from Armstrong Park, local flood graffiti, and is made of salvaged wood.

I have not actually shown these pieces; I made them because I had to.

Photos by Jon Bonjour