In the 1800s, the Everglades were viewed as a landscape to develop and conquer, to alter permanently. To date, more than half of the Everglades have been repurposed for urban and agricultural use. “Freshwater flowing into the park is engineered,” reads the brochure given to all visitors of Everglades National Park. “With the help of pumps, floodgates, and retention ponds along the park’s boundary, the Everglades is presently on life support, alive but diminished.”
In Everglades, Lisa Elmaleh returned to her native South Florida. In a project that lasted from 2008 until 2016, Elmaleh examined her native landscape, photographing the flora and fauna of the Everglades, the only ecological system of its kind. Inspired by early landscape photographers of the American West, Elmaleh spent her time in the Everglades using a large format 8×10” camera and the wet collodion glass negative process, a nineteenth century process requiring the images be exposed and developed on site in a small portable cardboard darkroom. In this way, Elmaleh hopes to preserve an essence of the Everglades, a land we are rapidly losing without knowing the magnitude of our loss.
The Everglades project was the winner of the Aaron Siskind Foundation award, the Puffin Foundation Grant, and the Everglades National Park Artist Residency (AIRIE).
Essay and Poems by Anne McCrary Sullivan.
Cover Graphic From Carved Wood Block Created By Questionable Press.
Maps © Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 1997. Everglades: River of Grass, 50th Anniversary Ed. Courtesy of Pineapple Press.
Lisa Elmaleh’s work is an exploration of rural America. Using a portable darkroom in the back of her truck, Elmaleh photographs using the nineteenth century wet plate collodion process. Elmaleh is a West Virginia based photographer and educator, teaching at the School of Visual Arts and the Penumbra Foundation in New York City. She has been awarded the Aaron Siskind Foundation IPF Grant, PDN’s 30, the Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation Grant, the Tierney Fellowship, and The Everglades National Park Artist Residency. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently featuring her American Folk project as a solo show at the Appalachian Center, Berea College in Kentucky, and her Everglades project in a group show, Imaging Eden: Photographers Discover the Everglades at the Norton Museum. Elmaleh’s work is in the collection of the Norton Museum, the Ogden Museum, and other private collections.