Cuba – Florida’s nearest international neighbor – is a big topic in our state, where Cuban Americans make up one of the dominant Hispanic groups in the population. In Daytona Beach, now through Feb. 2, 2014, the island commands attention as the subject of a dual photo exhibit at the Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida’s most comprehensive museum of photography and the largest in the southeast.
“Violet Isle” features photos by noted photojournalist Alex Webb and his wife, the photographer and poet Rebecca Norris Webb. The dual portrait of the island combines two separate photographic visions: Webb's dramatic and graphic exploration of street life in Cuba and Norris Webb's fascination with the unique, quixotic collections of animals she discovered there in tiny zoos, pigeon societies, hand-painted natural history displays and quirky personal menageries.
"Violet Isle" is the little-known name for Cuba inspired by the rich color of the soil there.
Despite their different subjects, both photographers say there were responding to a similar notion: “the feel of a nation in a kind of bubble, an economic, political, cultural, and ecological bubble.”
“In Spanish the word esperando means both waiting and hoping, a layered meaning that starts to get at the feel of the Cuba I’ve photographed since 1993,” Alex Webb says. “But what are the Cuban people waiting and hoping for? What lies ahead for this complicated and vibrant island?"
Webb, who has been a professional photographer since 1974, has photos regularly published in major national and international publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Life, US News and World Report, Geo, Stern, National Geographic and Aperture. He has published nine books and has works in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He’s been a member of the prestigious photo agency Magnum Photos since 1979.
Originally a poet, Norris Webb has published three photography books. My Dakota, which interweaves her text and photographs from her home state of South Dakota, was selected as one of best photography books of 2012 by PDN, Photo-Eye and Time. Her photos have been exhibited at the George Eastman House Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, among other places. Her work has appeared in Time, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Le Monde Magazine.
The Southeast Museum of Photography is a vibrant museum with an impressive international reputation for photography exhibitions, publications and educational programming. The museum opened in 1992 and is one of 13 facilities in the United States dedicated exclusively to photography.
A service of Daytona State College, the museum is at 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., in Daytona Beach. Admission is free.
Info: 386-506-4475; www.smponline.org