Throughout the month, WLRN will celebrate the Everglades in audio, visual, and written form. On Sunday, Florida's singular River of Grass got a national shout-out when the weekend edition of NPR's "All Things Considered" profiled an exhibition of recently "rediscovered" photographs of Seminole subjects living in the Everglades in 1910.
In her introduction to the story, host Jacki Lyden spoke of her annual spring pilgrimage to the Everglades: "There's nothing quite as evocative as the Florida of mangrove swamps and inhospitable terrain that you will find in the Seminole territories..."
This collection of images, shot by Julian Dimock during a single expedition, offers a glimpse into what life was like in the Everglades before modern amenities like paved coast-to-coast highways, airboats, and GPS. The striking black-and-white photographs are on display in the west gallery at the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. "Camera-man - The Seminole through the Lens of Julian Dimock" will be on display through Dec. 9.
Dimock's photos were taken roughly 50 years after the final Seminole war. Rebecca Fell, exhibit coordinator at Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki, was quoted in the "All Things Considered" piece as noted the images were from "a period of history (from which) there isn't a whole of information." She says that, until recently, the American Museum of Natural History didn't even realize they had these images in their collection. The photographs are a mix of posed portraits and candid images of Seminoles engaged in day-to-day activities like boating, transporting goods, and eating. Fell describes Dimock's process as cumbersome and difficult. The photographer used a "big box tripod" and "glass lantern slides for the negatives." He often had to stand in the swamps for long periods as he made the shots. There he was subject to insect bites and other realities of the Everglades. "Nowadays, we pull out our cell phones and take a real quick shot. This was truly a process to obtain these images," Fell says in the interview.
Of course, not every Everglades artist takes the easy way out. Anyone familiar with photographer Clyde Butcher knows there are still working artists who opt to lug around heavy equipment and wade in the water for hours at a time to secure the perfect shot. Butcher's work can be seen at his Big Cypress Gallery "in the heart of the Everglades," where he also rents out rooms in his "swamp cottage" and bungalow. Guests also can participate in swamp walks to experience the Everglades up close and personal.
Learn more about the historic Dimock exhibition by listening to the "All Things Considered" piece here. View more photos of the Julian Dimock Collection via the American Museum of Natural History's online collection. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is located at 34725 West Boundary Rd. in Clewiston. Call 863-902-1113. The exhibition is open to the public.