Katrina: Applauding New Orleans – Day 241

Artwork: No Bulldoze by Scott Francoeur
“No Bulldoze” by Scott Francoeur. Copyright © Scott Francoeur

Art is often inspired by events with great emotional power. Artists are particularly sensible and, even if we have no intention of producing work to commemorate a disaster or to celebrate a success story, we are often moved to create from it anyway.

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, and the devastation of New Orleans will remain in the hearts and minds of people for years to come. Artist Scott Francoeur traveled to New Orleans to assist with the post-Katrina cleanup. What emerged from that experience was a series of paintings with imagery that was influenced by the new landscape of the area hit the hardest by Katrina, the Lower Ninth Ward.

“I had no idea that it would result in a body of work,” says Francoeur. “I had gone down with my sister and her friend, staying with people they had met on a previous trip. The purpose was solely to help with the rebuilding efforts already going on. My first visit was about two years after the storm had hit, but even after all that time, there were areas (particularly the Lower Ninth Ward) that were still decimated. It was gut-wrenching to see, but the sense of hope and revival that was going was incredible. After talking to many of the New Orleans residents, you really got such a strong sense of community and family that was unparalleled. People didn’t consider themselves merely ‘neighbors’ anymore. They had become family.”

Artwork: Lower Ninth #1 by Scott Francoeur

“Lower Ninth #1” by Scott Francoeur. Copyright © Scott Francoeur. Used with Permission.

The experience prompted Francoeur to create a series of paintings he calls the N.O.L.A. series. “In this series, the marks I made on the canvas were influenced by the hieroglyph-like marks I saw on the decimated infrastructures,” he says. “The markings indicated which rescue team had been to the building, the date they inspected the building, how many bodies were found and how many people were supposed to be there. The goal of the N.O.L.A. series was to chronicle these horrific events that took place and to evoke a visceral reaction to the work.” 

“Despite the dark tone of the subject matter, I also aim to portray the atmosphere of hope that surrounded me while spending time with the displaced population. My goal was to chronicle the disaster that happened and, more importantly, convey the sense of rejuvenation and hope I had witnessed in these people.”

Artwork: The Great Misdirect by Scott Francoeur
“The Great Misdirect” by Scott Francoeur. Copyright © Scott Francoeur. Used with Permission.

“My work is fueled by a spark of inspiration that then takes on a life all its own,” says the artist. “I do not always know where the painting will lead. When I go into a painting, I tend to have a clear idea of what I’d like to convey, but then that idea shifts and morphs as the painting develops. Conflicts resolve themselves as if the painting has a vision of its own. My paintings are a complex relationship between texture, color, and line. A piece begins by creating texture and adding color intuitively. I paint while riding high on emotion, which influences the various marks on the surface.”

“What I love about abstract work is that the viewer is able to inject their own thoughts and feelings in what they perceive in the piece,” Francoeur continues. “After hearing what various people have told me they’ve seen in my work, I manage to see something new in them from time to time as well.”

Francoeur has received very positive responses from the paintings he shared with the people he had met in New Orleans. “When they see the work, they love it,” he says. “It’s difficult tackling such a somber subject matter and still manage to create work that makes people smile. Many people feel inspired to share their experiences with me, whether they’re transplants from New Orleans, or had family down there. It created the dialogue between artist and viewer that I had hoped to accomplish, but I never could have imagined how successful it would become.”

“The goal of the series was ultimately to bring attention to the atrocities that happened, but more importantly to shine a light on the uplifting feeling of hope that these people had after returning to the city they find so dear. The people of New Orleans have been through so much over the past seven years. Their resolve should be applauded.”

And a round of applause to Scott Francoeur whose work celebrates the positive spirit and resilience of these amazing people.

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Artwork: Voodoo Queen by Scott Francoeur
“Voodoo Queen” by Scott Francoeur. Copyright © Scott Francoeur. Used with Permission.

Artist Credits for the images included in this post:

No Bulldoze
Scott Francoeur, Massachusetts
Acrylic on canvas

Lower Ninth #1
Scott Francoeur, Massachusetts
Acrylic on canvas

The Great Misdirect
Scott Francoeur, Massachusetts
Acrylic on canvas

Voodoo Queen
Scott Francoeur, Massachusetts
Acrylic on canvas

Scott Francoeur’s artwork can be viewed at: Scott Francoeur

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.Click to view The 365 Days Project

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