Reading The Pictures: The Grace Of The Gulf

11/24/2005 10:42 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011




Is it really that hard to confront the plight of hurricane victims in the Gulf?

The few weeks following Katrina carried with them an almost unbound sense of purpose and hope for tackling the problems of social welfare, bureaucracy, corruption and decay. Then, politics set in.

Despite the intensity of the event and all the subsequent hope, the plight of the Gulf Coast seemed to shift fairly quickly to the back burner, replaced by political inertia and a dull complacency. This overall fact was captured a few days ago by the NYT (Louisiana Sees Faded Urgency in Relief Effort - link).

As we enter the holidays, however, it seems the spirit of the season might be shifting a bit more attention back to the Gulf. Beyond levees and buildings and economies and budgets, disaster is ultimately about you and me. Around this time, it's an awareness we are drawn to naturally.

Photographer and New Orleans native, Clayton James Cubitt (known professionally as Siege) had finally helped move his mother out of a shack she had been sharing and into her own trailer between Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and Slidell, Louisiana. That was five months before Katrina destroyed the trailer and forced his younger brother to be relocated to North Carolina.

These portraits mostly depict residents of Pearlington, Mississippi, a town of about 1,500 where his mother had been living. In shuttling between his current home in Brooklyn and his native New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Siege has been blogging and photographing since the storm. Except, that's not what he calls it. In his words, he's been keeping a diary and making a scrap book.

As you can tell from these portraits (and his "Operation Eden" blog), Siege has the ability to "uncover" humanity and reveal each person's natural dignity.

In the name of the Gulf, it's a gift to us all.

For more of the visual (including more on New Orleans and Serge), visit

Operation Eden blog.

Operation Eden image gallery.

Operation Eden contribution page.

(images: Clayton James Cubitt, 2005. Operation Eden. Used by permission.)