Virginia Hanusik is an artist whose work focuses on the relationship between landscape, identity, and the built environment. Originally from New York’s Hudson River Valley, she began photographing with an interest in water and its influence on the physical and social shaping of communities. Her current projects focus on the affects of climate change in Southeast Louisiana, where she works in the water management and social entrepreneurship sectors. Her photographs have been featured in publications such as Fast Company, Oxford American, and The Atlantic.
Virginia holds a BA in Urban Studies from Bard College, and received the 2014 Geoffrey Bruce Fellowship at Arcosanti for her work in architecture and photography. She lives in New Orleans.
Southeast Louisiana is experiencing sea-level rise and coastal erosion faster than anywhere in the world, losing a football field size worth of land thirty minutes. River diversions, sediment siphons, and other coastal restoration efforts worth billions of dollars are underway to salvage the land and cultural assets of this unique region. Aerial photographs of the receding coast demonstrate a substantial loss of habitat, but what does life look like on the ground? Backwater is an ongoing project that explores the response coastal communities have had to land loss, structural resilience, and habitat adaptation on the frontline of climate change.
Virginia began this project two years ago as a new transplant to Louisiana. The project was originally a way for her to understand and visualize the infrastructural complexities of the region, but quickly morphed into a critical documentation of the affects of climate change, environmental degradation, and architectural typology. The sites along the coast that she documents convey a landscape of hope, irony, and neglect; the region itself is a microcosm of preservation and destruction. Homes, commercial buildings, roads, and street signs tell the story of a place with a vibrant past, yet highly uncertain future as encroaching water threatens its very existence. What happens in Louisiana will have a global impact, as coastal communities around the world react and adapt to rising sea levels.
To view more of Virginia’s work please visit her website.