Alan Gerson is an artist born and raised in New Orleans. He grew up going to the Modern Orthodox Beth Israel synagogue and associated Hebrew school, supplementing his secular education. Alan earned a bachelor's in philosophy from Boston University, a Master’s in printmaking from the University of New Orleans, and worked as the Visual Arts Director for the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) for five years before going to law school. He worked as a lawyer for three years before returning to art and becoming a professional artist. At the time of the interview, Alan also managed six rental properties and his studio's building. His wife, Beth, is a lawyer.
Alan provides a brief overview of his family history, including where they emigrated from, his parents’ meeting, and his father’s clothing businesses. He discusses his childhood as a Jew in New Orleans in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Alan talks about the relations between the different Jewish communities and the integration of public schools in New Orleans. He went to the Young Judea summer camp. Alan talks about his college experience as a Southerner in the Northeast and returning to New Orleans to become an artist. He and his wife didn't think they would have to evacuate after Hurricane Katrina but eventually left and stayed with friends in Arnaudville, later going to Ponchatoula. Alan talks about the uncertainty in the storm's immediate aftermath and the government's incompetency in handling things. He spent four months cleaning and restoring his property and talking about what he lost. Alan describes the emotional toll and how his family coped and regained hope. Alan discusses his art and the camaraderie of the artist community in New Orleans. He mentions two funds that raised money to help artists with their studios and supplies. Alan believes the storm showed him his own strength and deepened his connection to the community. It disillusioned him further with the government and his representatives. Alan briefly discusses the current state of the New Orleans Jewish community, though he is no longer very involved. Finally, he shares a vivid memory from after the storm: seeing an abandoned, clean beach ball float across the road with nobody else around.