Pre-Write Museum, Rising Waters

I was excited to see the exhibit “Rising Waters”, after carefully reviewing the museum’s website. I was a bit surprised at my interest – after all, I had just learned a semester’s worth of information about Hurricane Sandy. What I liked most about the promise of the exhibit was the fact that there would be so many photographs. My Sandy class gave us the experience of going out to Bryant Park and seeing the remains of the destruction, but never had the class really shown photos of the destruction as it had been going on. More importantly, though, the photos were taken from both professionals and amateurs, which was an incredible juxtaposition, though the photos never looked different in quality, when I watched the video previewed on the site. The professional photos captured a few of the “big picture” moments, like the roller coaster from Coney Island dragged out into the sea, while the smaller moments were taken with smaller cameras and people – the most upsetting ones for me was a sign on someone’s door clearly stating that whoever trespassed would be shot, and one of a list of “lost cats”, written in crayon on someone’s door.

I am especially interested for this exhibit because my central theme in my Hurricane Sandy class was media portrayal of the disaster, and how the affected people felt the professionals that circled them with cameras portrayed them. It seems as though this exhibit will be a bit more intimate than a news source. I will be eager to learn if they put up any sort of news coverage in the exhibit, and what parts of the potential news could be taken to accurately depict and represent the way the media covered the hurricane. Looking through the shop that the Museum of the City of New York offers, there were prints and books dedicated to the disaster, a book called “Salted Wounds”, a photograph of a lone figure sitting on a railing, watching the water rise around him, visible through dark, bent branches, called “Hurricane Sandy Flooding Southern Brooklyn”. I am eager to understand the emotions that these pieces will evoke. An exhibit in a museum and a classroom filled with teenagers are definitely two different experiences. These photos and the video tugged at my chest as I reflected on my own experiences with Sandy. In the class, I remember some students talking about how their lights “did not even flicker”, while my family had no power, water, or heat for two weeks. I saw the “you will be shot” photo and remembered how my mother explained a month later that the only time she wished our family ever owned a gun was during that storm. Desperation and pain are difficult emotions to capture, but I believe that this exhibit will pay the great hurricane homage.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. tgmccormack
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 16:45:32

    I love the connections you make here between your own work and the exhibit. I wonder if a photo essay on Sandy could be your final NYC project for this course. Did you know we offer journalism and media classes in the English Department. Maybe you should take some.


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