Varisco seeking funding for Odgen exhibit companion book


The coming month promises to be a landmark for NOPA member Michel Varisco and her photographic work on the Louisiana wetlands and the Gulf of Mexico, with a solo exhibit of her work set to open at the Crescent City’s Odgen Museum of Southern Art on April 19. She is asking for help with funding, however, to fulfill the project’s promise.

More specifically, she is seeking funding for a book to serve as a companion to “Shifting,” the Ogden exhibit. She is doing so through USA Projects, a micro-philanthropy, or crowd-funding, agency that works with select American artists to help them complete projects.

Varisco noted that the book is already designed and ready for print, but needs additional funding. She is seeking $11,500 in pledges for funding by Friday, April 13. If the pledge goal is not met by that date, the project will not be funded via the USA Projects organization.

The book, like the upcoming Odgen exhibit, will aim to show the beauty and degradation of the Gulf and Louisiana wetlands, often through aerial views.

The work is the result of five years of focus on the wetlands region that surrounds the Crescent City, years in which she witnessed the effects of the BP oil spill as well as the Mississippi River’s highest tide in recorded history and land-building that resulted from it. The result is a series that explores environmental sustainability, as well the dying of wetlands an unprecedented rate.

She notes that to get photographs, she lived in houseboats in the wetlands. During the BP oil spill, she flew with U.S. Coast Guard pilots over affected regions and rode in boats with state and federal wildlife and fisheries agencies.

In the exhibit, she uses photography and installation to create in-depth portraits of the changing Southeast Louisiana environment. In the book, detailed descriptions will accompany imagery and include essays by Anne Gisleson (co-editor of “How to Rebuild a City”) and Ogden curator Bradley Sumrall.

“Inspired both by the raw beauty of the wetlands and by the fear of losing that treasure, I have been moved to create artwork that will inspire others to witness what I’ve seen,” Varisco notes. “By identifying with place and its value, it is my hope that we will see this region in a new light and better understand what’s at stake for our collective future.”

The Ogden exhibit will run through July 23. It is being sponsored in part by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and the New York -based SURDNA and Joan Mitchell Foundations.