BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
The African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand will hold an opening reception for photojournalist Duane Fernandez on Saturday, Sept. 27, featuring his exhibit, “The Trayvon Martin Journey: From Sanford, FL, Daytona Beach, FL, Orlando, FL and Washington D.C.”
Following the death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, national and international coverage ensued over race relations in the United States.
Fernandez captured scenes of civil unrest in Central Florida and the nation’s capital, photographing everyday people, civil right leaders and law enforcement.
“When Trayvon was killed, as a father, I have two sons. My youngest is maybe a couple years older than him. I thought that could have been my son; it touched my heart,” Fernandez explained.
Fernandez received an associaite of science degree in photography from Daytona State College and runs a non-profit, Hardnott University, where the mission statement is “teaching kids to shoot with cameras not guns.” He also frequently photographs for the Daytona Times and Florida Courier.
“As a photographer it is easy to shoot basketball games and other entertainment, but to me, these photos show civil rights violations and that is more important. It is history, and I wanted to record it.”
“His photographs tell a story,” Mary Allen, executive director of the African American Museum of the Arts said. “It is a time people need to openly see what happened.”
“The photography shows the type of neighborhood he was in. He talked to residents of the neighborhood and gathered feelings on what happened. He looked at the property, the upkeep and it really gives you a feeling for what that community is like.”
“It will be great for us at the museum,” Allen continued. “We do literary arts, dance and his photography is part of the performance arts,” she concluded. “We would like to invite everybody to come out and a closer look. This is a great time for our museum to present this to the community. That is part of what we do.”
In addition to the Martin exhibit, Fernandez recently finished a photography project on the town of Eatonville. The project uncover today’s way of life in the historical city. Additionally, he will be publishing a book on civil rights events in the near future.
“When they look at my exhibit they will see what I saw when I saw it. The photography is a view through my eyes,” Fernandez concluded.
About the museum
Founded in 1994 and located in historic DeLand, the seat of Volusia County Government, the museum is a unique and vital resource in this part of Florida. It is the only museum in the area devoted primarily to African-American culture and art.
The museum houses a revolving gallery where visitors will find works of both established and emerging artists.
The museum is also the home to a permanent collection of more than 150 artifacts, including sculptures and masks from countries of Africa.
The public is invited to the museum for the opening reception on Sept. 27 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. The exhibit runs through Oct. 2.
Museum operating hours are Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 325 South Clara Ave., DeLand.
For more information, contact the museum at 386-736-4004.