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Monday, May 11, 2015

To New Orleans with Love

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Photographer paints picture of beloved city

Photographic artist Christy Martin is enjoying the very first exhibit of her work, a one-woman show at Bossier Arts Council’s Emerging Artists Gallery. The show went up April 1 and will run through May 30.

About her influences and inspirations, Martin said simply, “I just wanted to take pictures.”

With a father in the Air Force, Martin wound up a Bossier City resident, and that is where she is ensconced with her family, husband Jeremy, daughter Alice, and son Ailan.

Though she calls Bossier home, her heart is really in south Louisiana – New Orleans to be specific.

From the first time she saw New Orleans at the age of 18 or 19, it was love at first sight.

“I think you either have New Orleans in your soul or not, and it is certainly in mine,” Martin said.

The work in her exhibit was all shot in the New Orleans area.

Martin began her photographic journey with a Polaroid point-and-shoot.

“You know, the kind where the camera ejects the image and you can watch it develop,” Martin said.

“My first roll of film, I just shot pictures of friends. I just wanted to take pictures, but I had no agenda. If I find it interesting I just want to take a picture of it,” Martin said.

Her first camera she actually won in a contest.

“Now I shoot with a 35 mm, a Nikon D 3100,” she said.

Though Martin is content with her family and the Bossier City area, she admits that her heart is really devoted to South Louisiana.

“When I was growing up, my mother would play French and Cajun music, and I had to learn the songs in Cajun-French. My favorite song was “Jolie Bon” [“Pretty Blonde”]. Cajun-French may be a dying language but not with me,” Martin said.

In the New Orleans area, she is particularly drawn to the French Quarter, the Garden District, the Treme area and the Ninth Ward, where much of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina happened.

“There is still a lot of evidence there of the catastrophe, and I think it has to be remembered,” Martin said.

“I’ve always just taken pictures because I loved taking pictures, but my family and friends started encouraging me to do something with my work,” Martin said.

This exhibit at the Bossier Arts Council marks her first foray into doing just that.

“Christy Martin has a strong body of work. Her black-andwhite images of cemeteries and street-scapes invoke such deep emotion for her viewers. In her images, she beautifully captures sadness and hope at the same time,” Robin Jones, executive director of Bossier Arts Council, said.

As a follow-up to this initial exhibit, Martin is already working on another series of images for a future show that will focus on mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and clinical depression.

“There is still such a stigma surrounding these conditions that I wanted to document them to hopefully advance a dialogue because people are still reluctant to talk about these issues,” Martin said.

In a related project spotlighting social consciousness, Martin also previously did a short video about the rampant bullying that now exists in schools everywhere. The project’s video shows people with all the words used in bullying painted on their bodies.

“If either project helps one person, I will consider it a huge success,” Martin said.

For someone who “just wanted to take pictures,” Martin has developed a keen artist’s eye for transforming everyday things such as a rusted fence at a New Orleans graveyard to a bridge near New Orleans into art.

–Karl Hasten

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