Lori Waselchuk at the Mahalia Jackson Center


Mahalia Jackson Center
2405 Jackson Avenue
Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation
504.359.6802
Monday- Friday, 10am – 5 pm

This exhibition features Prospect artists who have developed work in and about Angola State Penitentiary, presented together with art by Angola prisoners. Symposium and community activities at the recently opened school and community center in Central City, organized in collaboration with the Innocence Project and Resurrection after Exoneration, are planned in conjuntion with the exhibition.

Lori Waselchuk 

Lori Waselchuk is a documentary photographer and arts activist, often collaborating with public and private organizations that work for social change and build community. Through a 2008 Distribution Grant from the Documentary Photography Project of the Open Society Institute, Waselchuk collaborated with the Angola Prison Hospice Quilters to build a traveling exhibit called Grace Before Dying, from which these photographs are taken. The exhibit of quilts and photographs has traveled to prisons in Louisiana and Mississippi as well as museums, libraries and other special events and exhibitions, such as OSI’s Moving Walls #17 which opened this past June 2010. 

A life sentence means life at Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Because Louisiana has some of the toughest sentencing laws in the country, more than 85 percent of the 5,100 prisoners at Angola are expected to die there. Until the hospice program was created in 1998, prisoners died mostly alone and unattended in the prison hospital. A nationally recognized hospice program run by prisoner volunteers has changed that. 

Now, when a terminally ill inmate is too sick to live among the general prison population, he is transferred to the hospice ward. Here a team of six volunteers works shifts to take care of the inmate. The volunteers, most of whom are serving life sentences themselves, try to keep him as comfortable as possible. Then, in the last days of dying, the hospice staff begins a 24-hour vigil. The volunteers go to great lengths to ensure that their fellow inmate does not die alone. 

Hospice volunteers plan a memorial service and burial. The casket, made by prisoners, is taken from the prison to the cemetery in a beautiful handcrafted hearse, also made by prisoners. The hearse is drawn by two giant Percherons and is followed by a procession of friends and, sometimes, family members who sing and walk behind the hearse

Waselchuk’s photographs have appeared in magazines and newspapers worldwide including Newsweek, LIFE, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. She has produced photographs for many local, national and international organizations including CARE, UNICEF, UN World Food Program, Médecins Sans Frontières, The Vaccine Fund, YMCA, CityBridge Foundation, National Hospice Foundation, YMCA of Baton Rouge, and Let Us Grow(South Africa). She is recipient of the Aaron Siskind Foundation’s 2009 Individual Photographer Fellowship; the 2007 PhotoNOLA Review Prize; and the 2004 Southern African Gender and Media Award for Photojournalism. 
www.gracebeforedying.org

www.loriwaselchukphotos.com

Education

1989 Bachelor of Arts, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Employment

1996 – present Freelance photographer
Publications: 
Newsweek, Life, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Men’s Health, Minnesota
Magazine, Cultural Vistas, Utne Reader, Leadership, The New York Times, The Los Angeles
Times, The Washington Post, National Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Weekly
Reader, The Independent, The London Times, Der Spiegel, Courier International, Liberation,
The Star, The Mail & Guardian, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Currents, 225

Organizations and Foundations include: CARE, UN World Food Program, Médecins Sans
Frontières, The Vaccine Fund, CityBridge Foundation, Baton Rouge Area Foundation,
Louisiana Recovery Authority, National Hospice Foundation

1999 – 2006 Photography Lecturer/Trainer
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge LA.
University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Market Photo Workshop, Johannesburg, South Africa.

1990 - 1995 Staff Photographer, The Baton Rouge Advocate, Baton Rouge LA.

Selected Awards/Grants

2009 Recipient, Individual Photographer’s Fellowship from the Aaron Siskind Foundation
2009 Recipient, Special Project Commission from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation
2009 Nominee, Santa Fe Prize for Photography
2008 Finalist, Critical Mass
2008 Recipient, Distribution Grant from the Documentary Photography Project of the Open
Society Institute
2008 Finalist, Aperture West Book Prize
2007 Winner, PhotoNOLA Review Prize
2006 Finalist, Critical Mass
2004 Winner, Southern African Gender and Media Award for Photojournalism
2003 Finalist, The Brett Kebble Art Awards
1998 Finalist, The Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography
1993 Award of Excellence, Pictures of the Year; 2nd Place, Southern Photographer of the Year

Selected Exhibitions

2009 Grace Before Dying. Launch of the traveling exhibition funded by the Open Society Institute at
the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola LA. April.
Also exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art in conjunction with the opening of The Art of
Caring: A Look At Life Through Photography. May.
2008 Love and Concrete. PhotoNOLA Portfolio Review First Prize solo exhibition at the New
Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery. December – January (09).
2008 GUNS ‘n US. Curator of a group exhibition about gun ownership in America . Exhibited at The
Darkroom, New Orleans LA for PhotoNOLA. December – January (09).
2008 African Nights. Solo exhibition at The Darkroom, New Orleans LA. A satellite exhibition of
Prospect1.New Orleans international biennial. November.
2008 40 Days and 40 Nights: The Artistic Resiliency of Louisiana. Curated exhibition at the
Louisiana State Archives, Baton Rouge LA. August – September.
2008 Grace Before Dying. Solo exhibition at Kiang Gallery, Atlanta GA. June-July.
2007 The Big Show. Group exhibition at The Darkroom, New Orleans LA. December – January (08).
2007 Identity: Contemporary Photographic Portraiture. Juried by Deborah Luster for the New
Orleans Photo Alliance. October.
2007 The Red Show. Juried by Richard Sexton for The Darkroom, New Orleans LA. October.
2006 Uncomfortable Silence. Solo exhibition at The Darkroom, New Orleans LA. November.
2006 Caught in the Crossfire. International invitational exhibition sponsored by Oxfam and
Amnesty International. Simultaneous exhibitions in nine countries including a launch at
the United Nations headquarters in New York, NY. September-December.
2006 New Orleans: Ins and Outs. Solo exhibition at the Jenkins/Connelly Gallery, New Orleans LA.
September.
2006 Katrina Exposed: A Community of Photographs. Group exhibition curated by Steven
Maklansky for the New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA. April – September.
2004 Is Every Body Comfortable? Curator of an exhibition of emerging South African
women photographers, Johannesburg, Cape Town, South Africa; Maputo, Mozambique.
2003 The Brett Kebble Art Awards, Cape Town Convention Center, South Africa.
2002 African Nights. Solo exhibition exhibited at three locations:
The Castle, Cape Town South Africa, part of Cape Town Month of Photography. March-April.
Museum Africa, Johannesburg South Africa. June-September.
Fundacion Rosenblum Gallery, Buenos Aires Argentina, part of XII Encuentros Abiertos de
Fotografia, a photography biennale. August.
2002 A Day in the Life of Africa. One of 100 selected international photojournalists. Traveling
exhibition launched at Grand Central Station, New York, NY. October.
2001 Lines of Sight: Perspectives on South African Photography
Central de Musee National du Mali, Bamako Mali. Part of the Rencontres de la Photographie
Africaine, Bamako, Mali; Premiered at the South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South
Africa in 1999.

Books

2006 Women by Women: 50 Years of Women’s Photography in South Africa, edited by Robin
Comley, George Hallette and Neo Ntsoma. WITS University Press.
2004 Johannesburg – One City, Colliding Worlds, essays by Lindsay Bremner . STE Publishers.
2004 Moving in Time, Life in a Democratic South Africa, edited by George Hallett, a photographic
retrospective of 10 years of democracy in South Africa.
2002 A Day in the Life of Africa, one of 100 internationally selected photojournalists to take part in
a book/exhibition project to raise money for HIV/Aids in Africa.

Collections

New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana State Museum Collection, Southern Louisiana Art Fund