Enigmatic Stream

Industrial Landscapes of the Lower Mississippi River

Richard Sexton

with essays by Paul Schneider  and John H. Lawrence
book design by Alison Cody
The Historic New Orleans Collection 2019 • softcover
9" × 12 1/2" • 144 pp.
90 b/w images
ISBN 978-0-917860-75-1
$40 • £30

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As it churns toward its terminus in southeastern Louisiana, the Mississippi River becomes a wide, muddy superhighway of activity, matched in might only by the megastructures of heavy industry that line its banks. The section of the river from Baton Rouge to New Orleans doubles as one of the most potent economic corridors in the country. For two decades, photographer Richard Sexton has explored this complicated region. Intrigued by juxtapositions between innovation and decay, the commercial and the residential, the manmade and the natural, he has documented a quintessentially American conundrum: our insatiable desire to exploit the lower Mississippi River’s potential while still leaving room for life along its banks. The photography in this book eloquently captures the contrasting qualities of these landscapes. Essays from Paul Schneider, author of numerous natural history books, and photographic historian John H. Lawrence offer background on the subject matter and techniques in Sexton’s images. The volume accompanies an exhibition of the same name at The Historic New Orleans Collection, opening September 17, 2019.

Richard Sexton is a fine art and media photographer whose work has been published and exhibited worldwide. His photographs have been featured in Abitare, Photographer’s Forum, and View Camera magazines, as well as many others. Enigmatic Stream is his 14th book. Others include Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere (published in 2014 by THNOC), Terra Incognita: Photographs of America’s Third Coast, Vestiges of Grandeur: The Plantations of Louisiana’s River Road, and the best-selling New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence. He received the 2014 Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and was an award recipient in American Photography’s Latin America Fotografía annual competition.


“Without judgment of the industrial present or nostalgia for a preindustrial past, Sexton’s photographs capture a multitude of rich and fraught histories that have shaped this distinctive region of Louisiana.” —Jordana Pomeroy, director, Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum