BY ASHLEY THOMAS
The overcut grass and sad low-hanging branches told a story of despair at the home labeled 1507 shot through the lens of photographer Duane Fernandez, Sr.
Perhaps a foreclosure? Perhaps an abandoned home?
The story and reason behind the shot goes much further than abandonment, desolation or bank ownership. It is left up to discussion by those who visit the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center and Visual Arts Gallery on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University.
This printed moment of Fernandez, along with almost a dozen others are on display through Jan. 24 in the “Stills” exhibit at the 7,000 square-foot gallery. His work is exhibited on both the first and second floors.
Seeing is believing
As Fernandez spoke about the photos he took in downtown Sanford, he explained, “These show real life.”
The home in disrepair mentioned above is one of those photos. It sits in front of other unkempt homes, an area of destitution, poverty. Yet in a picture next to it is a multi-million dollar facility taken on the same road, less than a quarter mile away. One could ask, “Why the disparity?”
His high-resolution prints are developed in black and white, consistently bringing detail and emotion to every shot.
“Those downstairs,” he continued, “are of people talking about life.”
The photos on display on the first floor of the gallery are from various events the photographer attended in Central Florida, including a rally and march for Trayvon Martin and a march celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Fernandez took photos during the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford for the Daytona Times.
“Sometimes things have to happen for things to change. Sometimes bad things,” he remarked.
About the photographer
Fernandez, who also takes photos for the Daytona Times, graduated with a photography degree from Daytona State College. He teaches photography to students at the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Cultural and Educational Center, and is the president and founder of Team Hardnotts University, a 501©(3) organization.
“Teaching youth to shoot with cameras, not guns’’ is the motto. Team Hardnotts introduces each child to therapeutic photography techniques teaching them to view the world through the eye of a lens.
In the near future, Fernandez has plans of photographing historic Eatonville, the childhood home of artist Zora Neale Hurston. The town, located six miles north of Orlando, is known primarily for the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities held each winter, but his focus will be on the city and daily life.
For those wishing to catch a glimpse of his work, the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center and Visual Arts Gallery is located at 698 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free for the exhibit. For more information, call 386-481-2774.
“Stills” also features photography by Emile Dillon, Raphael Jackson, Thomasina Tasia Jackson, Jennifer Kaczmarek, Mercedez McCartney, Xavier Ryan and Stephanie Salkin.