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  • The Irreplaceable Cannot Be Replaced
  • Ellen Harvey

The Irreplaceable Cannot Be Replaced, Ellen Harvey, 2008. Photographs: Jan Baracz.

People in New Orleans were invited to submit images or descriptions of irreplaceable places, people, or things lost to Hurricane Katrina. Eleven submissions were chosen at random and the artist painted 16” x 20” oil paintings based on those submissions. All thirty texts that were submitted were framed and exhibited along with the paintings at the Contemporary Arts Center/New Orleans as part of the exhibition Something from Nothing, curated by Dan Cameron. Texts without a painting were accompanied by a framed black panel. At the end of the exhibition, all of the paintings and the framed texts were given away to the participants.

Ellen Harvey was born in the United Kingdom and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has exhibited extensively in the US and internationally and was most recently included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Recent solo exhibitions include Private Collections at Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, The Museum of Failure at Luxe Gallery, New York, Beautiful/Ugly at Magnus Müller in Berlin, Bad Mirror at Galerie Gebruder Lehmann in Dresden, Mirror at the Pennsylvania Academy, and A Whitney for the Whitney at Philip Morris at the Whitney Museum at Altria. She took part in the Whitney Independent Study Program and the PS1 Studio Program. Recent awards include a Pennies from Heaven Grant, a Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Grant, a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, a Palm Beach County Cultural Council Grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. She has completed projects for both the New York and Chicago Transit Authorities, most recently including a mosaic for the new Metro-North Yankee Stadium Station. The New York Beautification Project was published by Gregory Miller in 2005, and Ellen Harvey: Mirror was published by the Pennsylvania Academy in 2006.

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I am 87 years old living in a trailer on our property in New Orleans.

We had 5 ft of water, which remained in the house 6 weeks creating mold to the ceiling.

We lost everything. When I read Chris Rose’s column (he’s my favorite columnist in the whole world) it brought to mind my mother’s two dining room chairs that had been around as long as I can remember. I had them restored in about 1976 by Senior Citizens in classes of the “Peoples Program” sponsored by the nuns on Mirabean Ave. The wood was polished and varnished with a light brown stain and the seats were re-caned. I was born in 1920 so the chairs could be 75 years old. Anyway I can imagine you will have many interesting subjects to choose from but I’m submitting mine hoping I’ll be one of the very fortunate ones selected.

I am terrible at drawing but will give you as complete a description as I can.

I loved those chairs and enjoyed them for extra seating on holidays and at parties and they were conversation pieces.

Alice Delaney

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There are so many “washed away” treasures, that the memorialization of even just one will be everlastingly meaningful to the community.

I am submitting photographs of porcelain dolls, which I had crafted prior to the disaster. The dolls shown were created from commercial molds and were ready to go to a “new home.” Needless to say these dolls were submerged under water for at least two weeks. I call them my “children of the flood” but have not had the courage to disassemble them. I was able to rescue some doll parts and am in the process of cleaning, sorting and sanitizing them for future assembly.

If I am ever able to get back to my very rewarding hobby, which was helpful in supplementing my retirement income, I will have to replace my electronic kiln and most of my doll making supplies. Many of the molds that were destroyed are no longer available. However, I will keep the memories dear, I have been fortunate enough to replace my sewing machines and some of the fabric used for clothing and doll...