Ben Depp is an artist living in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nine years ago, Depp began making aerial photographs by powered paraglider, which allows for hours of exploration, a low flight path, and the time-intensive search for surprising compositions. He learned to pilot a powered paraglider to document wetland loss and coastal erosion in Louisiana. This work is exhibited at Ann Connelly Fine Art, Claire Elizabeth Gallery, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and published by National Geographic and others.
10:45 am to 11:30 am
State Capitol, House Committee Room 5
Tide Lines: A Photographic Record of Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast
11:45 am to 12:30 pm
Cavalier House Books Tent
Tide Lines: A Photographic Record of Louisiana's Disappearing Coast
In Tide Lines: A Photographic Record of Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast, Ben Depp’s photographs capture the beauty, complexity, and rapid destruction of south Louisiana. Once formed by sediment deposited by the Mississippi River, the Louisiana coast is now quickly eroding. Two thousand square miles of wetlands have returned to open water over the past eighty years.
Depp’s photographs communicate weather and seasonal changes—like the shifting high-water line, color temperature, and softness of light. A careful observer will notice coastal flora and distinguish living cypress trees from those that have been killed by saltwater intrusion, or see the patterns made by wave energy on barrier island beaches and sediment carried through freshwater diversions from the Mississippi River.
With a powered paraglider, Depp flies between ten and ten thousand feet above the ground. He spends hours in the air, camera in hand, waiting for the brief moments when the first rays of sunlight mix with cool predawn light and illuminate forms in the grass, or when evening light sculpts fragments of marsh and geometric patterns of human enterprise—canals, oil platforms, pipelines, and roads. Featuring an introduction by Monique Verdin and over fifty color images, Tide Lines is an intense bird's-eye survey that depicts south Louisiana from an unfamiliar perspective, prompting the viewer to reconsider the value of this vanishing, otherworldly landscape.
"Ben Depp’s Tide Lines matters tremendously—the loss of coastal Louisiana will impact every part of the US, altering the American economy and its culture. These striking photos provide a new perspective that brings this home in ways I haven't seen before. They make you think." - John M. Barry, historian and author of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History and Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America
"Ben Depp’s exquisite photographs of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands could be used to illustrate the book of Genesis. They describe a primeval landscape that resounds of Creation. On closer inspection, we see evidence of man’s careless intrusion, one that does not bode well for this delicate and vital region. Depp’s photographs should serve as a warning, a call to action, while there is still time." - Birney Imes, photographer and author of Juke Joint, Whispering Pines, and Partial to Home
"Depp's aerial photographs of Louisiana's wetlands and coastline are poignant examples of the catastrophic effects of climate change and serve as evidence that the American South is on the front lines of an international human-made crisis." - Richard McCabe, curator of photography at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art
"Successful photographs, like Depp’s, bear witness not only to what lies inside the frame, but to a larger context of experience and history that envelops the decisive moment. Depp’s work—informed by geologic time, southern art and cultural history, and present societal and ecological circumstance—invites the viewer to leave behind a vantage point of myopic modernity for one shared with the birds." - Julian Rankin, executive director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and author of Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta
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