Are some people in New Orleans afraid of memory? Earlier this week the Vieux Carre Commission , New Orleans heritage department, said “no” to a public sculpture commemorating Katrina’s victims.
Artist Dawn DeDeaux’s proposed sculpture titled ‘Steps Home’ is a visual reference to the concrete stoops and entrance stairs left behind after houses were washed away in some of the city’s most devastated neighborhoods. The finished sculpture would have shown three freestanding illuminated steps weighing about 800 pounds, 29 inches high and 48 inches wide, installed at Jackson Square – a National Historic Landmark in the U.S. and what was before Katrina an important public gathering place for local musicians and street performers.
The installation at Jackson Square would have been the first of a dozen similar sets of steps being installed at sites citywide for a period of time and then assembled together at a final permanent location.
According to comments from the Commission, their concerns were more focused on Jackson Square than on the memories being commemorated. One commissioner said that he was worried about “a proliferation of 21st-century modernist works that would screw up the square.”
Dadeaux can appeal the decision. Write to the Commission and tell them your thoughts. It seems to me the guy on a horse in Jackson Square (image above) could use a little 21st century help, especially from a public art installation remembering how some of the cities “non-horse riding” residents lost so much in the devastation of Katrina … and, sadly, how much was lost in the tragedy of betrayed public trust.