The Apostolic Project - Frahn Koerner artist statement
In 1969 my grandmother, and my grandfather who was a ship captain, were killed in Hurricane Camille. When I was little and there was a Hurricane threat, my Father always parked a boat outside of our house…. just in case we needed to get away from rising flood waters.
I’ve primarily been a painter, thus I’ve typically worked alone in my studio…. But after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the levees broke, I wanted to do something else. I envisioned filling up a house that had been flooded and gutted with hand folded paper boats. Thus “The Apostolic Project” was born, my first Art Installation and my first Collaboration. I loved getting out “into the field” of Holy Cross, plus meeting and working with the neighbors from the area. It was wonderful to work and reconnect with my co collaborators Anastasia Pelias and Rian Kerrane who were my friends from the UNO Grad School days. The house at 725 Forstall Street even seemed to offer it’s own support with found objects such as the long wooden planks of wood and the antique silver mirror. Some of the Holy Cross neighbors brought their own offerings… pennies were thrown into the yard as good luck, and food and cigarettes were placed on the alter set up inside the house…
Some people brought their personal stories. “Benny” told me of riding out the storm two blocks away on Tupelo Street. He stayed to help his sister and her two children. During the height of Katrina, he thought that their house would explode, or that the roof would be blown off. As the rising water became chest high inside their house, they escaped into the attic. For further protection, they had to chop a hole in the attic roof and climb through. Once outside on the roof, the family was exposed to the elements, but safer from the rising floodwaters. As the storm subsided and the darkness lifted, they began to call out. They quickly realized that hundreds of neighbors were stranded as well. Soon the neighborhood streets were filled with boats offering them a route to safety.
Benny told me that the paper boats in “The Apostolic Project” reminded him of those rescue boats that flooded the area after Hurricane Katrina. He shared with me that after walking through our Installation he felt a bit of his own healing had taken place. I was overjoyed. In my work my intent is to include a little bit of the unknown...a shamanistic quality of sorts.
Working on “The Apostolic Project” has been an extremely magical and rewarding experience for me. Special thanks to Sophocles Arvanitis, Mark Guilbeau and Elizabeth Underwood the director of Art in Action, for helping to make this possible.
You can check out "The Apostolic Project" on YouTube here:
Here is an interview on vimeo with two of the artists, Frahn Koerner and Anastasia Pelias: