If you’ve ever wanted to catch a glimpse of Cuba’s western coastline and its surroundings, now’s your chance to see its unspoiled beauty via the lens of a master. SALT Gallery welcomes the public to a special preview of “Naturalezas Gemelas/Twins of Nature”— the “sister sanctuaries” of Cuba’s Parque Nacional Guanahacabibes and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary— with a series of images presented by award-winning photographer Jeffrey Cardenas from 6pm-8pm on Saturday, December 3 at 830 Fleming Street.
The SALT Gallery exhibition celebrates a conservation accord signed by the United States and Cuba late last year by paying tribute “to the interrelated beauty of the flora and fauna of these two national treasures,” says Cardenas. SALT Gallery will exhibit 14 framed images printed on archival photographic paper, curated from 100 images that exhibited last summer in Cardenas’ rare American solo show in Havana’s environmental gallery Sala de la Diversidad. Accompanying the exhibition at SALT will be Naturalezas Gemelas: Twins of Nature, a hardcover book that features 100 images of sky, water, shoreline, and underwater with text in both English and Spanish.
“Our two governments have discussed trade, immigration, human rights, and tourism, but this is the first time both sides have sat down together to consider issues of mutual conservation,” Cardenas said. “This collection of photographs honors the recent Sister Sanctuary accord with images of wild places from both sides of the Florida Straits.”
The 35-year Key West resident is an award-winning photographer and writer who has documented the marine habitat of Cuba and the Florida Keys for decades, driven both by artistic motivation and a desire to bring about a greater awareness of their fragility. His images are dynamic, lyrical observations of the two marine systems that draw viewers in with in their beauty, movement, light, layers, and shadows. Regardless of one’s desire to understand their biology or ecology, viewers will be swept up by the images’ inextricable visual force – the backcountry sea as a glassy mirror to the cloud-filled sky, the shallows teaming with silver fish, coral heads gleaming like regal crowns – and how they underscore the sanctuaries’ importance to our environment.
Renowned Cuban curator and photography critic Rafael Acosta de Arriba recently described Jeffrey as ‘a tireless collector of essences” in a recent article in Cubarte. He said, “Jeffrey Cardenas presents a cultural bridge between our two countries. His work has exhibited in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Sala de la Diversidad in La Habana, and it reinforces the certainty that the sea that separates the islands from other lands and continents is the same one that unites them”.
Billy Causey, Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Regional Director of NOAA, calls Cardenas’ work “a visual celebration and touchstone” to this past summer’s Memorandum of Understanding among NOAA, the National Park Service, and Cuba’s National Center for Protected Areas. The mutual accord addresses common and individual threats each face while recognizing the inextricable link they share through the flow of the ocean.
“It is our hope that our relationship with Cuba can be a model of cooperation that goes beyond science and conservation,” says Causey in the Introduction to Twins of Nature. “We want the world to see how ecological and social bonds are stronger than the barriers erected between nations.”
SALT Gallery features a new artist each month; Cardenas’ work will remain on display throughout December, accompanied by his limited edition book Naturalezas Gemelas: Twins of Nature. For more information, call 305.896.2980 or visit SaltIslandProvisions.com.