Wednesday, February 9, 2011

PHOTOGRAPHING FRAGILE BEAUTY

On New Year’s Eve, 2002, a cold wintry night in New Iberia, Louisiana, I delivered a homily and performed the wedding ceremony for Marjorie Brown, the daughter of Martha Brown, a church member of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. Marjorie was married to David Pierson in a beautiful ceremony, blessed by The Rt. Rev. Willis Henton (now deceased). The bride and groom, a handsome, well-educated couple, had been active in several projects in the eastern U.S. – Marjorie, who has a Master’s degree in Management from Northwestern University, had been working as a marketing consultant in New York City and as a board member for the Double Discovery Program at Columbia University, which helps students complete high school and provides impetus for them to enter college. David, a graduate of West Point with an MBA from Duke University, was, at that time, the director of global oncology new product marketing at the Pharmacia Corporation in Peapeck, New Jersey.

When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck Louisiana, I was serving as director of Solomon House, an outreach center sponsored by the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, and we set up a clothing distribution center in New Iberia for evacuees of New Orleans and environs, Vermilion, Calcasieu, and other parishes. Almost immediately after this crisis occurred, Marjorie called me from New York City and wanted to know what she could do to help, and I asked her to just pass on the word that money and clothing were needed. Marjorie, who had numerous media contacts in New York City, contacted a friend who emceed a radio show, and she put out an appeal. As a result of that appeal, Solomon House probably received as many donations from New York City as it did from any other location in the U.S. The work done by Marjorie to solicit goods and money was outstanding.

Several weeks ago, I visited Marjorie’s mother in her new home in New Iberia, and when I left, Martha handed me a copy of Marjorie’s latest contribution to Louisiana, a photo essay that appeared in Louisiana Cultural Vistas, a quarterly magazine published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts. I was blown away by this photographic documentation of Louisiana wetlands that appeared in Marjorie’s "Acadian Wetland Series." Marjorie began the work on this project after Katrina and Rita struck Louisiana, and the photos in this essay are intended to inspire public awareness of the erosion of valuable wetlands in south Louisiana.  They represent a call to preserve those protective coastal wetlands.

Marjorie’s photographs are breathtaking, and her vision of the landscape reminds me of the paintings of Walter Anderson who had a unique way of looking at landscape and wildlife. Marjorie's photos include Bayou Teche, the marshes, the Atchafalaya Basin, and Lake Martin, to name a few. Through various photography techniques she captures scenes that resemble the work of the Impressionists in color and composition. Her work recently appeared in an exhibit entitled “Fragile Beauty” at Martine Chaisson Gallery in New Orleans, and she has placed her fine art photographs in private, corporate, and institutional collections throughout the U.S. including Paul Schexnayder’s A and E Art Gallery in New Iberia.

Marjorie and David live in Durham, North Carolina and have one daughter, Isabelle. Look at Marjorie Brown Pierson’s website at http://www.marjoriepierson.com/index2.php?v=v1 to view her work online – or buy a copy of the Winter 2010-2011 issue of Louisiana Cultural Vistas. The cover photograph of duckweed, an enhanced archival pigment photo, features one of Marjorie’s wonderful pictures.
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