The biggest piece of bad news of the last 4 months seems to be getting less bad: the Deepwater Horizon oil well is plugged, and the spill is disappearing from the surface of the Gulf fast. As the catastrophe fades the photographer Zoe Strauss is doing her part to keep our focus on the disaster – and how it continues to affect people who live on the Gulf.
Strauss grew up – and still lives – in working class South Philadelphia and was a late-comer to photography. She was given a camera for her 30th birthday and found she had a natural talent for portraits and cityscapes that capture the overlooked minutiae of urban life.
Since then she’s documented (in her disarmingly intimate style) the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, completed a decade long project bringing art to Philadelphia’s stretch of the I-95 freeway, published a book of her work, AND shown her images at the 2006 Whitney Biennial.
Strauss says her work is “a narrative about the beauty and difficulty of everyday life” so it makes sense that she felt drawn to document the effects of the recent oil spill on residents of the Gulf Coast.
Strauss named the project On The Beach (after the haunting Nevil Shute novel) and she’s been posting her most striking images on her blog. Recently, Kurt spoke to her about the new project and heard about her suggestion for a fitting punishment for BP executives.
- Britta Conroy-Randall