In February 2017 the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville hired Caitlin Doherty as the museum's Director. Prior to MOCA, Doherty worked as the Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. It was in this role that Doherty worked closely with world renowned photographer Gideon Mendel.
Mendel has spent the past 10 years traveling the globe while working on a project titled "Drowning World." He travels to areas affected by flooding and take photos to support his series "Submerged Portraits," "Floodlines," and "Watermarks." Doherty curated an installation of Mendel's in Michigan, where the photos were installed along the banks of the river, giving viewers a heightened level of context.
Mendel's work exists at the intersection of fine art and disaster journalism. He uses his photography to bring attention to the effects of global warming and climate change. His work is both beautiful and haunting.
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Doherty called Mende,l who was in Houston photographing the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and told him that he needed to visit Northeast Florida. The next morning Mendel was on a plane to Jacksonville. His photographs, which were taken in areas such as San Marco and Middleburg, will be in next week's issue of The Guardian.
With Doherty at the realm, the team at MOCA exhibited a nimbleness not often seen in cultural institutions. They worked diligently to arrange for Mendel to give a guest lecture, and they only had 24-hours to plan and promote the event. Also included in the evening was Northeast Florida photographer Bob Self, who is the staff photographer for the Florida Times-Union. Self is no stranger to disaster journalism, but he spoke to how it takes on a whole different whirlwind of emotions when it is occurring in your own backyard.
The evening started with Doherty delivering opening remarks that were incredibly touching. She spoke to the devastation of Hurricane Irma and extended her condolences to all those impacted. She also expressed MOCA's solidarity with the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, whose proximity to the St. Johns River resulted in damage to the museum's gardens, which have long served as an asset to the community.