The African Pompano Reflected in Search for the Ghosts of the Gulf

A Studio in the Woods has been awarded one of the grants given by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring together art and culture in activities that will enlighten and strengthen communities economically, physically and socially. The program which is part of Tulane University’s ByWater Institute is using the Our Town funding to support, Search for the Ghosts of the Gulf.

The $75,000 grant will back the project that is headed by A Studio in the Woods, resident artist biologist and environmental activist Brandon Ballengée. A Studio in the Woods is one of the top artistic and academic residency programs in the Gulf South. The studio is located close to Plaquemines Parish along the West Bank of the Mississippi.

With the help of Plaquemines Parish, Brandon Ballengée, will use his community-based residency to study and highlight the at-risk coastal communities in Plaquemines Parish. He will have assistance from local community members, youth and fishermen who will explore missing and endangered fish species in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It is always exciting when Plaquemines Parish can partner with outside organizations to bring grant money into our parish,” said Plaquemines Parish President Kirk M. Lepine. “This project in particular will help us to expand our coastal resilience, which as we know is one of the most
important and pressing issues we face.”

The African Pompano is just one of the many species that will be researched and included in the artwork. The species became endangered when the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened. Ballengée made the image and others by chemically clearing and staining species
collected in the Gulf of Mexico after the disaster.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Brandon Ballengée and the Plaquemines Parish government to bring dynamic, accessible and fun programming about environmental change to our neighbors in
Plaquemines Parish,” said Ama Rogan, managing director of A Studio in the Woods. “We hope this project sparks new understandings, conversations and bonds in our communities.”

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