Maryville Hosting “Katrina Diaries” Art Exhibit


ST. LOUIS – Nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast, victims of the natural disaster continue to rebuild their damaged homes and shattered lives. Members of the Louisiana chapter of the national Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) have channeled their anger, sadness, frustration and optimism through their paintings, photographs and quilts to create “The Katrina Diaries,” an exhibit that has been touring the country for the past year.

“The Katrina Diaries” made its St. Louis debut when the exhibit opened in Maryville University’s Morton J. May Foundation Gallery on Thursday, June 14. Hosting the exhibit, which runs through August 3, is the WCA’s St. Louis chapter, whose members will create a “second line” of artwork that will be displayed alongside “The Katrina Diaries” exhibit, said Janice Nesser, president of the WCA’s St. Louis chapter. Nesser serves as an assistant professor, photography program coordinator, and gallery director at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.

Nesser, who also serves as the regional vice president of the WCA’s Midwest chapter, said she became aware of “The Katrina Diaries” when the exhibit was on display in California last year. She and other St. Louis chapter members were determined to get the exhibit to St. Louis. “As women artists, we are concerned about the human spirit,” Nesser commented. Roxanne Phillips, director of Maryville’s May Gallery and a WCA-St. Louis board member, offered the gallery as a host site for the exhibit, Nesser said. “We hope that those who come see the exhibit will get a sense of how it feels to be disenfranchised, to lose everything and the emotions that go along with that,” she remarked.

Gallery hours are 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday thru Thursday; 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m.-10p.m., Sundays. For more information on “The Katrina Diaries” or the St. Louis chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art, click on or call Nesser at 314 741-3772.

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies.

Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.

Photo cutline: “Vault” by Phyllis Parum is one of the photographs on display as part of “The Katrina Diaries” art exhibit.