MELINDA ROSE was enjoying a long and productive career as a teacher when the world of documentary photography swept her up, carrying her and her camera into remote regions and inner city enclaves throughout the United States. Shortly after earning her BFA in Fine Arts/Photography Melinda continued roving around the country, teaching art and photography to children. She has lived and worked with Lakota children on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, African American kids in Inner city Durham, NC, and a Puerto Rican community in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Melinda's work has shown on all “three” Coasts and she has been awarded numerous grants, including Ilford Corporation, Puffin Foundation Ltd. and The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. As the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches her solo exhibition, OF THE RISING TIDE: A PHOTO ESSAY ON THE VANISHING BAYOU COMMUNITY OF ISLE DE JEAN CHARLES is on display at Scott Edwards Gallery in New Orleans through October 11, 2015. The exhibition has been featured in “The New Orleans Advocate” as well as on New Orleans public television station, WYES. Related presentations and book signings are being scheduled throughout New Orleans during the exhibition.
LONGER BIO...or how I got from “there” to “here”
For many, long years I have been a teacher. A Montessori instuctor by day, but also a life-long moonligher with a passion for a variety of subjects...from bread baking and calligraphy to my personal favorite, a popular workshop I created called, “Tongue Fu; Using Humor to Combat Stress.”
Somewhere along the way, though, that “mid-life” thing happened and I found myself back in school. And this time I was on a mission.
Two weeks after earning a BA in Fine Arts/Photography I realized a life-long dream and traveled out to South Dakota to teach photography to children on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Since that time I've used photography to connect children of different cultures and regions, including African American kids in Durham, NC, Puerto Rican families in Allentown, PA. and an ethnically diverse school district in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Enter Hurricane Katrina. Like so many millions of Americans I stood helplessly in front of my television and watched one of America's most iconic cities drown under a gushing wall of toxic sludge.
The moment I made the decision to drive down to New Orleans, donations began pouring in from friends, neighbors and complete strangers over the Internet. Our government may not have cared but I was deeply moved by how many Americans desperately wanted to help.
Much to my disappointment, an interview on-route directed me away from my beloved Crescent City!  Scott Crow, director of “Common Ground” a local grass roots organization, discovered I had worked with Native Americans and mentioned that at least 3 tribes down the bayous could really use my help. Three tribes?...Really? But another storm was brewing in the Gulf and I was ordered to turn back.
Enter Hurricane Rita. While Katrina devastated much of New Orleans, Rita proceeded to swallow up large chunks of South Louisiana's bayous.
In Rita's wake, I will never forget my first drive down that narrow 2 mile-long road. To my left...and to my right; nothing but a vast expanse of smelly, oil-stained gulf. I was terrified. Had I actually been able to turn my car around without driving right into the gulf, I was ready to abandon the project all together.
That was 10 years ago.
My decade-long documentary project OF THE RISING TIDE has helped me get to know...and love the gentle, yet determined people who continue to inhabit a remote patch of land called “Isle de Jean Charles. And in spite of the fact that every biting bug in South Louisiana has gotten to know me intimately, I continue to make the journey down the bayous to be with my friends. After all, there are gardens to plant, birthdays to celebrate and kites to fly.
I have found my life's work.
And these days, my commute out to the Island is not nearly as long. I am very pleased to announce that yet another life-long dream has been fulfilled. I now call New Orleans “home.”
Melinda Rose