For over 30 years, Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun have been the most dedicated documenters of African American life in Louisiana, especially in New Orleans and their native 9th Ward. Partners in art and life, their photographs record the vanishing lifestyles of the countryside as well as the timeless traditions of the city's second line parades, carnival and church rituals, marching societies and social aid and pleasure clubs. Based in the Lower 9th Ward, they had assembled a massive portfolio that covered almost every nook and cranny of life in our African American communities by the time hurricane Katrina inundated their city and neighborhood, as well as their home and studio. After they returned, the muddy mess that was all that remained of most of their negatives was frozen to prevent further deterioration, but the damage was irrevocably done. Or was it?
Faces of Treme: Photographs by Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun, Through Jan. 26, McKenna Museum of African American Art, 2003 Carondelet St., 586-7432. Left: Baby Doll Alma Borden, 1987, by Keith Calhoun