After the Storm (The Katrina Cross)

“After the Storm,” which we just call The Katrina Cross, began with fragments left on the beach and land after Hurricane Katrina swept through in 2005. In this case I was not working with manufactured tiles but pieces of broken glass, pottery, and even some Christmas tree bulbs. Moreover, this would be a two-sided mosaic. We started with a piece of plywood, cut to the shape I wanted and painted it white.

I wanted the overall message of the cross to be one of rebirth after the destruction of the storm. I tried to make this happen through the choice and placement of the pieces, using the same techniques that I described above. Then I drilled some holes at the ends of the cross’s horizontal member so that small green twigs could be placed there to emphasize this theme of rebirth and new growth.

Sylvia Everett working on mosaic cross

I had to make sure that the pieces at the bottom were set in such a way that we could put it on a stand made for the cross. I had anticipated that it would be placed permanently in a new chapel at the Gulfside Retreat Center, but so far it has travelled widely to various Methodist conferences and meetings, including two General Conferences.

This mosaic cross, free-standing about 4 feet tall, is mosaiced on both sides by broken glass, mirror, and pottery debris left behind by Hurricane Katrina. The pieces were collected by members of a church once served by a pastor who led a mission trip from our church to its coastal Mississippi location. A historically black Methodist retreat center, Gulfside, was completely wiped off the map. No trace was left.

The managers and supporters of Gulfside were determined to rebuild on the same or a nearby location. The Katrina Cross was intended to be placed in the chapel of a rebuilt center as a sign of survival and continuation even after devastation. A few pieces of broken stained glass from our church’s fire of 1994 were included to complete the arms of the cross. This piece is part of the green cross series.

It has been used widely for various regional and state conferences and meetings, including two General Conferences of the United Methodist Church in 2008 and 2012, in Texas and Florida. Its exact present location is unknown to me as well as the status of plans to rebuild Gulfside. 3’X4’ 2010