"Smoke on the Water" Photographing New Orleans photographer Michel Varisco on the banks of the rising Mississippi River



Michel Varisco is an artist in the true sense of the word. You cannot pigeonhole her medium and she is not limited by the tools she uses to create. Her photography is very well known in the area and her message has often been one to sing the praises of our fragile landscape and show the beauty of it as well. I chose Michel for the My Louisiana Muse project because her work always reminds me of why I love this state so much: Water and trees.

Any time I meet with an artist to do their portrait, I always learn something new about them and myself. We chose the banks of the Mississippi River to do Michel's portrait and the location could not have been more perfect. Michel had just won (a week earlier) a $25,000 grant in the Civic Design Pitch from Propeller and The Idea Village. "Turning" is an interactive sculpture designed to be spun by the viewer, sound bells gently and glow like phosphoresce at night through laser cut imagery of the Mississippi River at various stages in its history through Louisiana. Pretty amazing! Congrats to Michel....

The morning we met was a typical foggy one in New Orleans, as they usually happen when winter turns slowing to spring. We met near both of our favorite levee spots uptown near the parish border. I have always liked to shoot there, even once bringing out a generator, fog, and lasers for a Quintron and Pussycat photo shoot. Good times indeed...





As the river level was so high, there were only a few spots to be found where I could get here even with the river, but we ended up finding the perfect little nook. Behind Michel you could see nothing but fog, water, and an ominous industrial landscape emerging from the West Bank. 

Photo: Zack Smith - Michel Varisco on the Banks of the Mississippi River