Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This water-damaged organ was photographed in a church in the Lower Ninth Ward, a working-class neighborhood in New Orleans.
- The Lower Ninth Ward was hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was the last neighborhood in New Orleans to be pumped dry and have its water and electricity restored.
- Photographer John Rosenthal traveled to New Orleans in 2007 to document the aftermath of the hurricane. His photographs of the Lower Ninth Ward show the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina as well as the beauty and resilience of the neighborhood.
- While most of Rosenthal’s photographs are in black and white, he photographed the Lower Ninth Ward in color to capture the liveliness of the community.
John Rosenthal is a Chapel Hill-based photographer and essayist. His photographs explore the interactions between landscape, humanity, and the passage of time. Ultimately his images represent loss and what it feels like to lose something important: a person, a place, or a way of life.
In 2007 Rosenthal traveled to the Lower Ninth Ward, a primarily African-American working-class neighborhood in New Orleans, to document the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. His photographs of the Lower Ninth Ward preserve the memory of the neighborhood and challenge stereotypes of poverty and crime in the area.
Although most of Rosenthal’s earlier photographs are in black and white, his series of 44 photographs of the Lower Ninth Ward is in color. According to the artist, the use of color captures the liveliness of the community despite its economic challenges. Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans, LA, Church of the Living God II shows a church organ damaged by floodwater and covered in cracked silt. The low lighting emphasizes the tragedy that took place, yet the vibrant image also shows that beauty can be found within the darkness.
Resources for Teachers:
- Read an article about Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the Lower Ninth Ward community.
- Explore a lesson plan from the Pulitzer Center about telling stories through photography.
- Explore more photos by John Rosenthal.
Resources for Students: