I am a native Floridian and have been living in New York City for over 30 years. The Florida of my youth had abundant undeveloped areas and animated wild places that I took for granted and that are now gone. The remaining primitive places have been put at risk by unwise land use policies, nearly unfettered development and environmental degradation.
Several years ago, I began photographing the wetlands, palm hammocks and low-lying forests of Florida in a process of exploring, reacquainting myself and, finally, interpreting the unique and fragile beauty there. I feel a need to reconnect with the places that are part of my essence and identity, and that I have lived apart from for so many years.
Primitive Florida is not a place of grandeur and majesty so I seek out lush and fecund places where land merges with water. I am most attracted to scenes of animated and layered growth that exhibit the urge for survival and the persistence of life. As a visitor to my birthplace, I am seeking and discovering new relationships and new meanings in my native landscape using the formal elements there.
My mother was a painter. When I was a child and would ask what her painting was a picture of, she’d reply that her picture isn’t of something, it just is. She would challenge me to see differently and to look beyond the apparent. From her and her abstract paintings, I learned that the world around us is a jumping off point for image making. This knowledge was empowering when I got my first good camera as a teenager and would conjure my own imagery from the woods and undeveloped areas around our home.
My shooting process, besides including a canoe, insect repellant and a packed lunch, involves extensive staring. I immerse myself in my surroundings and see as hard as I can. This becomes a nearly meditative state; I am blissfully and totally focused on the moment and what’s around me.
With my photography, I seek to go beyond mere literal description and to really know a place. The language I use consists of branches, trunks, leaves, clouds, water, light and shadow. What I’m interested in discussing are the dynamics at play in the natural world: how the chaos we see in the natural world is a record of interdependence, competition, survival, and mortality. I simply try to honor my subject, to show what is greater and more interesting than we are, in the hope of gaining a sense of inclusion and understanding.
I live and work in New York City and have been teaching at the International Center of Photography since 2001. My work is represented by Clayton Galleries in Tampa, Florida, and by the Hagedorn Foundation Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia.