LISA ELMALEH: EVERGLADES Republished from LensScratch with permission
About a month ago, I received an unexpected book in the mail from Zatara Press. The Everglades by Lisa Elmaleh has a cover in a richly saturated green linen with a woodcut of a Florida landscape providing a clue as to the subject matter. It is not the usual presentation for a photography book and the interior continued to delight me with a series of surprises.
As a native of South Florida, the Everglades are an ecosystem that have shaped my own history. Inspired by the early photographers of the American west, I have documented the flora and fauna of the Everglades and the surrounding natural areas using my large format 8″x10″ camera and the wet collodion process, a nineteenth century process requiring the image be exposed and developed on site. The collodion process renders light slowly and reveals the passing of time, a quality which is essential to my work.
The Everglades are the only ecological system of its kind. In the dedication of Everglades National Park, President Harry S. Truman stated, “Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land… serving not as the source of water but as the last receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes the place from all others in our country.”
“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.”
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.