St .Joseph

Documentary photographer Monica Hendricks is an artist with great interest in themes of identity, particularly within the African-American community. She also examines subcultures, counter-cultures, and various social issues. This photo essay provides a glimpse into her work.

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St Joseph #5
In January 2010, when I began my project on the historic cemeteries of Shreveport, Louisiana, I was curious. I wanted to know more about these sacred spaces I saw located throughout the city.

I began researching, thinking that, by examining the way the deceased are cared for by the living, I could learn more about local society as a whole. Wondering if there were racial disparities, even after death, in the care of the people who came before us, I began exploring the cultural differences and similarities between cemeteries.

Forest Park
The six cemeteries I photographed were Oakland Cemetery (the oldest), Star Cemetery (first black), Carver Cemetery (black), St. Joseph’s Cemetery (Catholic), Greenwood Cemetery (Stoner), and Forest Park Cemetery (Linwood). Oakland and Star are maintained by the city, while the others are cared for privately.

St. Joseph #8
When I began the project, I wondered if race would greatly factor into the quality and condition of the cemeteries. This was not true. Instead, I saw that money, the funds allotted for a cemetery’s upkeep, was the biggest determinant. Only in the aesthetics of the cemeteries were differences in culture and religion evident.

Over the course of this project, I found that, regardless of race, most of our departed are watched over with care. The unfortunate ones are those left in repose in cemeteries with few means.



Monica L. Hendricks has a B.A. in Photocommunications and has been a professional photographer since 2000. She is a native of Northwest Louisiana, where she lives with Jezabel, who is three years old.