Photographer Thomas Neff, the Emogene Pliner Professor of Art, is speaking this week to students at the Macauly Honors College of the City University of New York about his acclaimed photographs of Hurricane Katrina survivors.
Neff also has an exhibition that opens this week in New York at the College of Staten Island. “Still Holding Out and Hanging On: Surviving Hurricane Katrina,” will run from September 23-October 27 at the Gallery of the College of Staten Island.
Neff spent 45 days in New Orleans following Katrina, interviewing and photographing the city’s holdouts. In his speech to the students at CUNY, he will show slides of his work and discuss his experiences as a photographer. He will also talk about the way photographers are drawn to disaster scenes such as lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, Indonesia following the tsunami on December 24, 2006, and the earthquake in China in 2008.
“Photographers have an ingrained need to respond to these kinds of disaster in some manner. It seems to be part of the culture,” Neff explains. “I’m going to be approach the talk from that point of view and then lead into the work I did following Katrina.”
Neff will also provide students with an update on some of the subjects of his Katrina photographs, which have been shown in several exhibitions around the country and are the subject of a book published last year.