Petrochemical America travels to Gallery 360

"Petrochemical America comes to Gallery 360," by Jason Ritchey, The Huntington News

In the 19th century, the land between Baton Rouge, La. and New Orleans was known as the River Road, a scenic segment of the Mississippi River featuring pristine nature speckled with grand plantation mansions. Today, it’s been dubbed “Cancer Alley” and is the subject of the exhibit Petrochemical America currently featured in Northeastern’s  Gallery 360.

In the exhibit, photographer Richard Misrach’s haunting images of homes, cemeteries and farmland shadowed by refineries and processing plants are enhanced by landscape architect Kate Orff’s throughlines, or unique information visualization aids placed on the photographs.

“We are excited about this because there are hundreds upon hundreds of underwater pipelines running from all the offshore oil rigs as well as pipelines running through swamps and bayous on the land connecting to refineries and trains,” Phil Brown, director of the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern, said. “Nobody’s ever put it all together in this way with such a comprehensive picture.”

Petrochemical America is based on a book by the same name published in 2012 by Aperture Magazine, which also organized the exhibit.


Petrochemical America comes to Northeastern after several years of touring. Most recently, it was at Pomona College in California.

“There, it sparked the discussion of the offshore drilling,” Edwards, who saw the exhibit at Pomona, said. “What I love about the conversation at Northeastern is that here it’s a conversation about design and technology, coastal sustainability and how artists can work with community groups to initiate change. Wherever it goes, it’ll be different and relating to the local community.”