Biloxi's Katrina sculpture project began in January 2007 when Mayor A.J. Holloway and Public Affairs Manager Vincent Creel spoke with Mississippi “chainsaw artist” Dayton Scoggins about sculpting marine-related figures from the dozens of standing dead trees in the median of Beach Boulevard in Biloxi.
The trees were victims of the saltwater storm surge of Hurricane Katrina 16 months earlier.
In March 2007, after MDOT crews "topped" the dead trees, Scoggins made the first of two sculpting visits to Biloxi, creating egrets, seagulls, pelicans and dolphins from a collection of trees just west of the Biloxi Lighthouse.
Scoggins's initial five sculputres -- a $7,000 investment for the city -- inspired Fort Walton Beach, Fla, sculptor and frequent Biloxi visitor Marlin Miller to approach the city about donating his time and talent to sculpting more standing dead trees in the center medians in Biloxi.
Miller, who exhibits sculptures at shows nationally, wanted to leave his mark on Biloxi and return the favor of Biloxians who had helped his community recover after Hurricane Ivan a couple years earlier.
Miller's efforts represent the majority of the 20 works of art in Biloxi -- 15, plus one in progress, in fact.. During his multiple sculpting visits, he has refused any reimbursement or payment for his public works of art.
Today, rarely a day goes by that local or visitors are not seen admiring or photographing the sculptures. A visitors survey by the Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that the sculptures are one of the top attractions on the Mississippi Coast.
Marlin, Day 4: To see photos of Rene Miller applying color to the sculpture, click here. To see photos from afternoon progress, click here, and to see an interview that discusses progress from the initial visit to work on the marlin, click here.
Marlin, Day 5: After a half-month break, Marlin Miller returns for more work on Marlin. To see a video of Marlin discussing carving a blue crab and sea turtle into the tree, as well as the challenges of working with oak, click here.
Marlin, Days 6 and 7: To see Rene Miller painting the sculpture on Aug. 27-28, shortly before its planned unveiling, click here.
The unveiling: To see video of the unveiling ceremony on Aug. 29, 2009, the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, click here. To see photos from the Katrina memorial observance that day, including photos of the sculpture, click here.
To meet sculptor Dayton Scoggins, we offer two video clips: