Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Norton Museum sends five artists into Florida Everglades - posted by FFAB
Norton Museum sends five artists into Florida Everglades
There’s a Broadway musical quality to what the Norton Museum of Art asked of five artists: Go into the woods.
Into the Everglades, to be precise.
Clyde Butcher’s “Moonrise Number Two” (Courtesy: Mildred and Herbert Lee)
The result: You’ve never seen the Everglades quite like this.jim
The museum commissioned five photographers to go into the Everglades over the course of the last 18 months — amid more than two-and-a-half years of planning — and show the public what they saw.
Their wildly different depictions of the impression Florida’s grassland eco system made on them is captured in a vast new exhibit, “Imaging Eden: Photographers Discover the Everglades,” which runs through July 12.
Bert Teunissen, Domestic Landscapes. Everglades, 2014 (Photo: Courtesy Bert Teunissen)
Their projects are part of a wider exhibit that includes more than 200 images, early maps, postcards, Audubon prints and works by celebrated photographers including Walker Evans and Marion Post Wolcott.
The five commissioned artists — Amsterdam-based Bert Teunissen, American Gerald Slota, Korean-American Jungjin Lee, photographer Jim Goldberg and historian Jordan Stein — were chosen for their disparate points of view.
And that only adds to the richness of an Everglades exhibit that stands as a unique portrait of Florida’s greatest natural resource.
James Balog’s “Florida Panther” (Courtesy: Norton Museum of Art)
“Imaging Eden” goes beyond the expected photographs of wild terrain and reptiles.
The exhibits range from photojournalism to pure abstract. From black and white to vivid color. You never knew there were so many ways to look at the Everglades, and this exhibit does challenges the conventional mental image.
Lee takes a reductionist view of the Everglades. Through the lens, she looks for simple, minimalist forms that tell a story about the landscape. Grassland ridges become patterns, a fleeting crow ephemera, a woodland path a haunting.
Eliot Porter, “Slough and Mist, Cypress Lodge, Punta Gorda, Florida, January 31, 1974” (Photo: Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas)
“She’s incredibly Zen about the way she photographs,” exhibit curator Tim Wride said. “She has this ability to ferret out ‘the moment.’”
Teunissen takes the opposite tack. Rather than photograph outside spaces, he focuses on the inside spaces where people from the Everglades live. His portraits of the people in the Everglades — most of whom were photographed in their trailer homes — are intimate, familiar and bring us closer to the people who live there.
“I tried to make a big overview of the people who live in that area,” he said. “They are the ones who make up that countryside.”
Gerald Slota, The Seminole Wars, 2014 (Photo: Slota)
Gerald Slota let the centuries of U.S.-Native American conflicts inspire his massive mural of abstract colors and images. The inspiration was the 1837 Christmas Day battle in which Native Americans and escaped slaves worked together to repel the U.S. Army.
It’s history that feels immediate and aggressive instead of a sepia-toned memory of a bygone conflict.
“My goal was for you to step back and get your own personal narrative,” Slota said.
Goldberg and Stein worked together to produce an installation of photographs, videos and found objects from their time in the Everglades. It’s an abstract walk through the Everglades from the fresh eyes of someone new to that landscape.
“It challenged me to make photographs that show how compelling my experience was in the Everglades,” Goldberg said.
“It’s such a closed community in a lot of ways,” Stein added.
That makes their windows into the Everglades all the more revealing — and important.
IF YOU GO
“Imaging Eden: Photographers Discover the Everglades”
Where: Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach
When: The exhibit runs through July 12.
More information: Call 561-832-5196 or visit www.norton.org