LAKELAND, FLA.- Polk Museum of Art
welcomed an exhibition of black-and-white photography by nationally recognized photographer and author Richard Sexton. The exhibition, Terra Incognita: Photographs of Americas Third Coast, is on loan from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, La. The photographs are on view from June 21 through September 13.
Latin for unknown land, Terra Incognita comprises 57 photos taken over a 15-year span along the Gulf Coast. Photographs depict marsh, scrub lands, dunes, beaches, swamps and forests from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle.
R.C. Baker of the Village Voice wrote: Nothing in these extremely fine-grained prints resembles a snapshot.
Sextons spare compositions coalesce into a portrait of nature as the ultimate abstractionist.
Sexton was born in Colquitt, Georgia, and was introduced to the Gulf Coast on family vacations to the Florida panhandle during the 1950s and 1960s. After graduating from Emory University, he moved to California to pursue a career as a professional photographer. He moved to New Orleans in 1991, intending to photograph the citys architecture. Not long after relocating, he toured the home of Roger Ogden and found himself drawn to 19th century landscape paintings of the Souths swamps and coastal areas in Ogdens collection, which later was donated to the University of New Orleans Foundation to establish the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
It was an epiphany that a significant
school of painting had coalesced around the low-lying, watery landscapes of the region, Sexton wrote in the foreword to his book, Terra Incognita. The artists portrayed the swamp as a place of mystery and melancholy, using it in a symbolic way, to convey a certain mood. Thus began Sextons work to document the changing environment along the Gulf Coast in Terra Incognita.