The Hurricane Quartet is a photo meditation begun just before Hurricane Katrina, (which destroyed our home). Moving back soon after to the neighborhood to one of the few surviving homes, I was determined to find meaning from bleak surroundings. The series echoes the theme of disorder in nature. By weaving together the before, during, after and ever-after cycle, the end becomes the beginning. I focused on found still life compositions as a form of memory (rather than landscapes of destroyed homes, or so-called disaster porn). Bleak resignation gave way to renewal through subtle transitions following hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms. I came to find a lyrical calm in a former disaster zone that is also a paradise where brief moments of eternity are found and felt.

I live along an estuary folks call a lake.

Lake Pontchartrain in Southeastern Louisiana is a tidal inlet of the Gulf of Mexico via the Rigolets straight and is subject to waves, storm surge, salt and freshwater tide flows. As it’s not a self contained body of water, odd things wash up, especially after storms.

From 2005 to 2017, I documented my surroundings just before and years after Hurricane Katrina. After losing our home in hurricane Katrina, my husband and I temporarily relocated to Miami, but then returned to Slidell to a house on the lake that remained relatively unscathed. Except for a few other houses, we were alone with nature and reminders of catastrophe lingered so I photographed them. I was careful to crop out unsightly strewn items, or just the opposite, to focus solely on each as a way to take control of an area that looked like a war zone.

At first things were bleak.

A natural disaster is already a stress test, but regular life issues like illness and death squash optimism despite best intentions. The dear friend who hosted us in Miami died suddenly followed by a beloved family member after enduring cancer. The act of photographing gave me a way to re-phrase, meditate and mourn. Over time I came to observe subtle changes and regrowth which bolstered my spirits. Not knowing how to end this series, I realized I had already moved on by printing works of the sun and moon, a simultaneous project.

Living through subsequent storms, feelings of shock and awe took turns as dueling psychological states. Over the years I came to realize that there are four distinct aspects: before, during, after and ever after, or the peaceful time before the next storm. I call these Squall, Tempest, Rustle and Sanctuary which collectively form The Hurricane Quartet.

When I returned after Katrina, I looked up and saw a fishing net draped like a sculpture on a tree. In 2012 I stared in disbelief at the New Orleans floodgate sign floating at my feet. Looking back, I realize I was naive to nature when in July 2005 I photographed a waterspout, thinking it an anomaly.

Now I know better.

- Jan Arrigo