Debbie Fleming Caffery, of Breaux Bridge, will receive the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities “Michael P. Smith Documentary Photography Award” on April 2 during special ceremonies at Houmas House in Darrow, La., just south of Baton Rouge. Each year, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, or LEH, honors Louisianians who have made outstanding contributions to the study and understanding of the humanities. The LEH is the Louisiana affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Debbie Fleming Caffery’s dedication to rural communities with strong agriculture and religious ties brought her to the sugarcane fields of Louisiana where she has photographed and documented the last generation of workers to harvest sugarcane by hand. Over the course of 30 years, Caffery has had more than 20 one-woman exhibitions at museums and galleries, including the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian, Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and Galerie Camera Obscura in Paris.
Caffery received a Katrina Media Fellowship from the Open Society in 2006 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. In addition to numerous awards in Louisiana, Caffery has begun conducting a series of photography workshops on Cajun Mardi Gras, south Louisiana Cajun culture, and workshops in New Orleans. Debbie Fleming Caffery’s images have earned her numerous awards including a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship awarded in 2005 to continue her photographic work in Mexico. She was the first recipient of the Lou Stomen prize for documentary photography given by the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California. Caffery’s work is in numerous museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institute, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.