Roy Ferdinand’s work depicts New Orleans though the 1990s up to a year before Hurricane Katrina—a precarious era when the city’s murder rate was the highest in the nation yet an ever-vibrant street culture burned brighter than ever. While he used ink markers and water colors instead of a camera, photographs of his era offer insights on the visual elements found in his art. While noted for his depictions of street violence, his subject matter was wide-ranging, including affecting portraits of everyday folks, of carnivalesque celebrations, and of spiritual faith. Drawing from memory with drug store art materials, working on any flat surface he could find, his art offers close-up views of often hidden worlds. Ferdinand’s on-the-spot informality arguably has much in common with the neo-realist street photographers who turned their lenses on the urban theatres of mid-20th century America. Although self-inspired, Ferdinand didn’t work alone. He was part of an often wild and eccentric local art scene which supported his work, and that he commemorated with his own art.

Art Scene


Faith & Spirts

Front Stoops & Back Streets

Signs & Signifiers