Volume 1, Issue 4 2015

Florida First Contact

Florida First Contact Residency - Atlantic Center for the Arts
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
September 19 – October 12, 2002
Master Artists:
Andrew Cross (UK)
Torben Eskerod (Denmark)
Stephen Lawson (Scotland)
Elaine Ling (Canada)
Yuri Nagawara (Japan)
And 25 associates, including Sam Sweezy, Jim Vecchi, Marion Belanger, Barbara Bosworth, Susan E. Evans

The beginnings of Florida First Contact were both personal and intellectual. My own arrival to Florida in 1991 and the slow process of getting to know its unfamiliar land- sea- and sky-scapes may have been what led me to William Henry Jackson’s bewilderingly dull and clichéd images of South Florida. It seemed to me that Jackson was flummoxed by these dead flat, consistently green vistas, in which nothing—natural or manmade—resembled a cathedral. What would happen today, I wondered, if landscape photographers unfamiliar with our state were dropped here for a month to make pictures of everything and anything of interest?

The Atlantic Center for the Arts offered an excellent venue for such an experiment. A residency program noted for its outstanding architecture and its sensitivity to the natural environment, it provided beautiful and isolated surroundings for artists to work together in a specialized circumstance of mentoring that was a unique feature of the program. Our experiment ignored much of this. The usual distinctions between master artist and associate disappeared almost immediately as the group of nearly 30 photographers broke in to smaller car-sized groups to explore the land and cultures around them. This was also a real departure from the retreat aspects of the usual program, but the evenings found the place to be a lively home to return to for, in the words of the ACA mission, “coming together, sharing our work and ideas, and collaborating on projects.”

The residency was a great success in terms of connections made and projects begun, but plans for an exhibition were never realized. Now, some 13 years later, we present a small sample of the work made then by artists seeing Florida for the first time.

Alison Nordström, Curator