Beauty from destruction


Workers cut down a tree in front of Whitehall Classroom Building on Monday August 30, 2010

by Geoffrey Giancarlo

When Lori Gordon saw the destruction that Hurricane Katrina left along the Gulf Coast, she also saw something else: Potential. A multi-media artist, Gordon began to use debris from the rubble to “create in the midst of destruction.”

Five years after the storm, Gordon is coming to UK with her exhibit “The Katrina Collection,” which will be at the Rasdall Gallery on August 31st

Gordon, who had been showing multi-media collections since 2001, was a 20 year resident of Clement Harbor, Mississippi, when Katrina hit in 2005. Her studio, house and treehouse were all completely wiped away by the gale.

Returning to what was left of her home was an especially jarring experience for her. “I have no idea which route I took, or what my first sight of my lot without the house… was like” Gordon said.

Rather than dwell on the loss of her possessions and home, Gordon saw the disaster as an opportunity to turn the mess into her kind of art. Five weeks after returning home, Gordon started to use the debris in art pieces.

One piece, “Guadalupe del Orbe II” features a faint and washed depiction of Mary against a red disc. The piece looks not only old, but smooth, like a stone having been tumbled in the ocean for ages.

One of the most striking aspects of Gordon’s pieces in ‘The Katrina Collection’ is the color. Because of their origin, one would expect the color to be faded and dull. But many of them have vivid contrast between bright reds and blues, as in “Guadalupe del Orbe II.”

After completing the collection, Gordon’s work was exhibited at the University of Southern Mississippi and Browne’s Fine Art in Jackson, Mississippi. Private collectors of her works include Faith Hill, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

The collection is based around the idea of “rebirth and renewal.” Gordon said the message she wants to convey through her art  is “that no matter what event causes upheavals in our lives – a broken marriage, the death of a loved one, or a devastating natural disaster – we must find a way to patch the broken pieces, pull our lives together and find a way to create something good and beautiful.”