This drawing is a 4-year-old boy’s depiction of Hurricane Katrina. It is one of 50 drawings, photographs and sculptures that went on display yesterday at the New Orleans Museum of Art, as part of an exhibition called Katrina – Through the Eyes of Children.
Involved in the exhibition is Karla Leopold, one of a team of art therapists that has been working with children who have been staying at a trailer park in Louisiana since their displacement by the hurricane two years ago.
The children’s drawings are an indicator of how they are coping with the trauma of the hurricane. According to Leopold and her colleagues, there aren’t many signs of recovery in New Orleans’ children, and the trauma they have experienced is long-lasting.
Some of the children illustrate their helplessness by drawing themselves as having no arms or legs. Many of the drawings contain alligators, dead birds, helicopters and rescue boats, and some include images of dead bodies (including those of babies) floating on water.
Leopold has also noticed that a common theme in the drawings, by children of all ages, is the morphing of how houses are represented, from a triangle on top of a square to just a triangle.
“We realized the internal schema of these children had changed,” Leopold says. “They weren’t drawing the house as a place of safety.”
Katrina – Through the Eyes of Children exhibition runs until October 7th. The exhibition website includes a gallery of some of the drawings and photographs on display.