Living Ind

Artistic Barriers

by R. Reese Fuller

A new art exhibit by two Southwestern Louisiana University professors reflects upon ' and raises awareness of ' Louisiana's disappearing barrier islands.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that in some areas of Louisiana's barrier islands, 100 feet of shoreline disappears every year. Largely uninhabited by people, the land masses serve as buffer zones between the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana's wetlands. Without the islands, the coast is more susceptible to storm surges and saltwater intrusion, affecting fish and shellfish nurseries, harming Louisiana's fishing industry and bringing the Gulf just a little closer to home than anyone wants.

A new art exhibit at The Frame Shop Gallery 912, Hell and High Water, focuses on those eroding islands, with 45 pieces of artwork from Southeastern Louisiana University's Chairman of Visual Arts Dennis Sipiorski and professor of graphic design Karin Eberhardt. A Wisconsin native, Sipiorski's acrylic paintings are inspired by his trips to the barrier islands in the 27 years he's lived in Louisiana. Since 2004, Eberhardt has been visiting and photographing the barrier islands and using a computer to digitally manipulate her images and present them as collages.

After Gallery Director Roger Laurent booked the show, he approached the USGS' National Wetlands Center, curious to learn more about the state of the barrier islands and what's being done to save them. In addition to Eberhardt's and Sipiorski's works, maps from the Wetlands Research Center will be on display to illustrate the change in the islands within the last 50 years, including a map of Louisiana's coast lines from 1774.

"I want people to know that something is being done," Laurent says. "I didn't know anything was succeeding down there, but there is. There's some restoration of beaches and growth and wildlife. So this is good news. There are some long-term plans, and we need to help the Wetlands people really implement their work."

For more information about Hell and High Water, which runs through the month of August, visit The Frame Shop Gallery 912 at or call 235-2915. Visit the National Wetlands Research Center at to learn more about Louisiana's land loss.