Two weeks after Hurricane Laura made landfall, a Bay St. Louis artist honored those who were affected by the category four storm.
After two and a half months of painting and carving, Bay St. Louis artist Bob McGraw put his finishing touches on his mural at Ruth’s Roots Thursday evening. The mural, called ‘St. Francis in the Bayou,’ is dedicated to those impacted by Hurricane Laura. “They need to be remembered. We, here in the Bay and on the Coast, have direct knowledge of that. We weren’t here at the time, but we had relatives here. And we understand, intuitively what they’re going through. It’s tough.”
Ruth Root’s Director Elise Epperson Deano proposed the idea to McGraw about dedicating the mural to Laura victims because she remembers the suffering that she and her family went through during Hurricane Katrina. Deano lost her Long Beach home and her Bay St. Louis office during the storm 15 years ago.”Nationally there’s just a whole bunch of stuff going on and so I do feel like– I don’t want those people to get forgotten because I know how horrible it is. I had a ten month old baby and it was absolutely the worst time of my life.”
McGraw used driftwood he found after Tropical Storm Cristobal to create 3D figures for his mural including a possum, woodpeckers, a raccoon, an alligator, and St. Francis. “Trying to bring a figure, in this case a human figure and some animals to life, as if it were made out of inanimate wood, it’s always a challenge.”
McGraw chose to feature St. Francis in his mural because St. Francis believed nature was a mirror of God. The Saint also believed in calling animals his brothers and sisters, even alligators. “He’s sort of the patron saint of protecting the environment of protecting the environment. And I thought given our location, given the nature that’s all around us that having St. Francis holding an alligator would be quite appropriate.”