Floodwall is an exhibit of drawers found in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Part art exhibit and part memorial, Floodwall comprises 350 furniture drawers that New Orleans native Jana Napoli salvaged from the debris of Hurricane Katrina. Over 225 feet in length, the wall currently stretches along the Liberty Street Bridge in New York City, which overlooks the scene of another tragedy—the World Trade Center site. Among the pieces, scrolling LED signs display some of the memories and messages of the drawers' owners, who were interviewed by Napoli after they identified their property. (When collecting the drawers, the artist assigned a location or a zip code to each, with the hope that one day they would be claimed.)
The artist says she chose the drawers to represent the residents' loss because “they were a symbol everyone could understand.” For months, she drove around the devastated city collecting them, ending up with more than 600. “All the physical evidence [of the people who lived in the city], including photographs, paintings, and letters, was gone,” she says, “so all the things we found in these drawers were sacred.”
In conjunction with the exhibit, fellow New Orleanian Rondell Crier has designed an interactive online archive, floodwall.org. The site contains photos of all the drawers and the kind of furniture into which they were built and maps the area where they were found. It also features an oral-history component, with transcripts from interviews with the flood's survivors.
Click here to start a slide show of the drawers.
Floodwall runs through February 9 at the Liberty Street Bridge , World Financial Center , New York City. The exhibit is open daily from 7 a.m. – 11p.m. — Susan Weiman, assistant to the editor-in-chief