Some iconic Katrina carvings face uncertain future - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Some iconic Katrina carvings face uncertain future

The sculptures were carved from trees damaged or killed in Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WLOX) The sculptures were carved from trees damaged or killed in Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WLOX)
The sculptures were carved from trees damaged or killed in Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WLOX) The sculptures were carved from trees damaged or killed in Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WLOX)
The sculptures were carved from trees damaged or killed in Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WLOX) The sculptures were carved from trees damaged or killed in Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Some artwork that became iconic in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is now facing an uncertain future.

It was only about 16 months after the storm when the City of Biloxi commissioned chainsaw artist Dayton Scoggins to turn devastation into beauty. He was charged with turning damaged and dead trees into works of art.

"We thought that was going to be the end of it. Well, Marlin Miller, who is an artist from Fort Walton Beach, he came up and he wanted to volunteer some time. It was only supposed to be a weekend or two," said Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel.

According to Creel, Miller kept working on his carvings throughout the coast for the next two years. The creativity was inspiring, and the transformations were a tourism highlight. But, there was always a sobering element to the works of art.

"Over time, we knew that these sculptures were going to give way to the elements. The rain, the constant pounding of the wind and the sun," said Creel.

Now, a couple of the carvings have fallen and several others aren't in the best shape.

"It's hard to predict how certain trees will survive under certain conditions," said Miller, the man behind the chainsaw.

It was always Miller's hope that the carvings would last as long as possible. He even went to measures of preserving the wood with various materials, including varnish and concrete.

Concerns have started to circulate about the eagle statues in front of USM's Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, but Miller is not too worried.

"I haven't looked at them in several months, but the last time I was there, the mayor asked that I look at them, and I did, and they hadn't changed in any way since the day that I carved them," said Miller.

Officials say the City of Long Beach has discussed different possibilities for further preserving the sculptures, but no solid plan is in place.

The City of Biloxi is considering trying to save the fallen sculptures to be on permanent display somewhere indoors. Miller likes the sound of that.

"They've really become pretty symbolic of many things, and so I think it would be important to preserve them for as long as possible," Miller said.

Miller believes the sculptures represent the strength, resilience, and recovery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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