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Artist Statement - Jana Napoli

Returning to New Orleans in October 2005, I found an enormous, silent, colorless city.  As I went out early each morning to stay ahead of the trucks, the heat and the flies, I had no words for the profound sadness around me.  I started picking drawers off the curbside where the interiors of homes had to be discarded. I knew I must give voice to the intimacy and loss that stretched in front of me.  I made a promise to the people of New Orleans that I would tell their story, through these drawers which seemed to still hold their hopes and fears. 

I wanted to take this intimate and homely detritus out of this sodden world.  I wanted to take the wrenching cry of grief and transform it into a wailing wall where all of us could mourn.  This emotional response quickly grew into a sculptural and historical work that would allow the people of New Orleans to speak, to talk about what they value and why.  Anyone who sees the drawers is drawn to them in a personal way because it is such a familiar object.  They think of their own lives, their own drawers and what they hold to be precious and sacred.

New Orleans was one of America’s great port cities, formed by the crossroads of international trade.  I have always wanted Floodwall to travel – as a memorial that would express our loss but also one that would once more connect the world to us.  I hope that bond with others will protect us in this journey to rebuild ourselves.

Jana Napoli