September 21, 2009

Melody Golding
101 Lee St, Vicksburg, MS 39180

Melody Golding’s "Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember"
Photographs Collected by Smithsonian

Washington, D.C. – For the first time since 1910, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History Archive Center is acquiring work about Mississippi, by a Mississippian.

Acclaimed Vicksburg-based photographer Melody Golding’s collection Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember will be added to the Smithsonian’s Archives Center collection this September. This body of work is also the Smithsonian’s sole acquisition documenting Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi. Earlier this year, the Museum’s Collections Committee approved acquisition of the photographic prints, original negatives, DVD movie (including "Song for Katrina,"composed by Lucia Lynn) and other documents related to Ms. Golding’s coverage of the devastation wrought on Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina.

Ms. Golding’s photographs of Katrina’s aftermath in Mississippi first caught the attention of the Royal Photographic Society in London, England. In October 2005, the publication featured her images in their Awards Journal, conveying the story of the storm internationally. In June 2006, Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember became the first exhibit about Hurricane Katrina displayed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, presented first as Stark Exposures: Images of Katrina, at the just-reopened Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs. Since its first exhibition, the show traveled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in the Washington D.C., then traveled regionally to more than a dozen sites. Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember has also been on display at colleges and universities, as well as used by these institutions of higher learning, including Mississippi College, Mississippi State University, and the University of Mississippi, as an educational resource to explore art, gender studies, sociology, meteorology, and history.

David Haberstich, curator of photography for the Smithsonian’s Archives Center, met with Ms. Golding in November 2008 to view her collection while it was on display at Mississippi College. He was so impressed with the exhibit that he initiated a formal acquisition request to the Museum’s Collections Committee. The Committee enthusiastically agreed to undergo the process of acquiring Ms. Golding’s work.

"Ever since Ms. Golding offered her Katrina project to our museum, and I [saw] her work, I have been deeply impressed by the single-minded, heroic dedication of this talented photographer,"says Haberstich. "Her photographs, as well as the interviews and research she conducted on the impact of Katrina on her state, constitute a thorough, multi-faceted project in the finest tradition of documentary photography."

Ms. Golding traveled to Washington, D.C. on June 18, 2009, to present in person the initial installment of Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember. The first installment included seventy-one of the ninety-two sepia toned silver gelatin prints from her traveling exhibition, along with her file of comments left by exhibit visitors – first-hand testimonials of the emotional impact the photographs have on those who view them. On August 16, 2009, Smithsonian archivist Craig Orr journeyed to Vicksburg to obtain the sixteen large prints for the museum’s collection of Ms. Golding’s photographs.

Prior to obtaining Ms. Golding’s collection, the Smithsonian archives did not contain any photographs of Katrina in Mississippi. Although the Smithsonian does not have a particular mandate to collect images of every state, Haberstich believes that a national collection should strive for balance in collecting photographs from various regions of the country. Other curators in the Museum had previously collected artifacts and photographs related to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but Haberstich agreed with Ms. Golding that it was also very important to preserve, on a national level, evidence of Mississippi’s harrowing experiences with the storm. The collection of photographs, film and documentary pieces are all-encompassing, capturing powerful images of place, Coastal landscape and landmarks, and representing people from all walks of life: all ages, genders, races and backgrounds.

Ms. Golding’s photographs, interviews, and research are also compiled in a book, published by the University Press of Mississippi, also entitled Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember. Her work on this project has been supported in part by the Mississippi Humanities Council. All proceeds from the sales of the book go directly back to the Coast’s ongoing recovery.

Ms. Golding continues to capture Mississippi through her lenses. She has several upcoming exhibitions, and in 2010 the University Press will publish another collection of her photographs and essays. For more information about the artist’s work, visit

Original Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember exhibit sites:

Selected Publications