This painting ran on the cover of The New Republic, marking the 1-year
anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This was one of the saddest and most
infuriating stories I have ever worked on. Doing research for this piece,
I looked over a lot of photography from New Orleans and was struck by
the omnipresent and putrid water line that appeared to encircle the city.
As the events unfolded in late August of 2005, I watched the ongoing
coverage on television. For several days the city was flooded with dark,
oily water that sat perfectly still. It was awful and eerie, but visually it was
remarkable, almost beautifully incomprehensible—truly the definition of
surreal. As the water receded, the scope of the tragedy was revealed and it
was sickening to see that the flooding had actually shielded the real damage.
As the government, media and public-at-large turned it’s attention to other
matters, the water line seemed like a perfect metaphor to describe a city
that was still very much in the midst of a disaster.