Visual Art 9-10-2005

What Would an Artist Do?: How You Can Help in the Wake of the Storm

Katrina has wiped out one of the arts capitals of the world. How can Minnesota artists help? Here are some ideas, from help for one of our own to aid to the Southern Arts Federation Emergency Relief Fund to local benefits. Read on . . .

flooded street
no roof
the gallery before

We’ve all watched, rapt, the coverage of the wreckage of New Orleans, and thought our own thoughts concerning what it says about the nation. Many of us have tried, are trying, to make up for the failures of the various governments by donating what we can to those who’ve lost so much.

Here in Minnesota, many are wondering about the fate of Coral Lambert and Paul Higham. Coral is active in the sculpture community here and sets up iron pours around the state, most recently at Franconia Sculpture Park. Paul does sculpture as well and was also active with the electronic music community and the Composers Forum.

Coral came to Minnesota from England almost a decade ago to do a residency at New York Mills; she then became a Research Fellow in cast metals at the University of Minnesota for several years. She and Paul were married at Franconia Sculpture Park and set up a studio in Northeast Minneapolis. Coral became a mainstay and prime mover of the iron sculpture scene in the state, and her generosity with her knowledge and time had a big influence on its development.

They moved to New Orleans so Coral could take a teaching job (now over) but maintained their connections with the Minnesota arts community—Coral did three iron workshops in the state this summer.

Coral and Paul had developed their big rangy studio near the French Quarter into a welcoming place for sculptors to come to and work, to pour iron or to think and talk sculpture. They called the place the New Orleans Sculpture Lab, and renamed it the International Sculpture Works last year. It’s now under water and part of its roof gone. Everything will have to be replaced.

Coral and Paul did get out to Baton Rouge in time, but with only those things they could take in their truck. Here’s part of a letter from Coral that arrived a few days ago:

“We are temporarily in Baton Rouge, with no hope of getting back into New Orleans for several months. Our Studio/Home : International Sculpture Works in New Orleans has suffered severe flooding, the water to this day is still there, we can tell from satellite images that there is also extreme damage to part of the roof which is missing. We have lost all equipment, personal work, documents, slides, digital equipment and incurred a lot of damage, we are basically wiped out. As a result of this a lot of people have asked about helping so we have decided to set up an official fund to rebuild and reestablish New Orleans Sculpture Lab / International Sculpture Works.

“We hosted [the ISC’s] International Sculpture Center Symposium there with Anthony Gormley (he was at Goldsmiths together with Paul). He expressed the view that we had a ‘unique and magical place full of creativity’. We hope to be able to set up in New Orleans again better and serving artists internationally.”

Coral telephoned since this note; she and Paul were able to get into New Orleans with the team from the English newspaper The Independent, who are doing a story on the couple. They sloshed through filthy water in chest waders to enter their studio, where everything had been upended, swirled about by the storm and the flood and dumped. All is ruined, every tool, every slide, every work of art.

If you would like to donate to Coral and Paul and the International Sculpture Works, contact them through at Or mail a check directly, to Franconia Sculpture Park, 29815 Unity Ave., Shafer, MN 55074. Make the check out to Franconia with “International Sculpture Works” in the memo line; this will ensure that your donation goes 100 percent to Coral and Paul and that it is tax-deductible. (Donors from outside the US please use International Money Orders.) Franconia has kindly agreed to collect these donations and pass them on.

There are organizations set up specifically to aid artists in the Gulf Region. The Southern Arts Federation Emergency Relief Fund has been established to assist artists and arts organizations in need of aid. A donation form for this organization is provided on the Americans for the Arts website

The Americans for the Arts website has additional information on how artists and arts organizations can get involved and provide help. They also have information on how artists and cultural institutions in the Gulf region have been affected.

Corporations are also offering to match donations to the Red Cross. Best Buy is matching donations up to a total of $2 million dollars, through the Best Buy Children’s Foundation. They have apparently already reached their first $1 million, so act now to see your gift grow. For more details, visit the Best Buy website and click on Hurricane Relief efforts:

Additionally, there are many, many benefits planned across the state to benefit artists and musicians and others in New Orleans. We’ll post notices of them in our news column; look for them there and send your notices of benefits to