Artist’s Notes on After the Storm: Photographs by Barry Fellman
Hurricane Andrew hit Miami Dade County on August 24, 1992 as a category 5 hurricane.
These images document the effect the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida in almost a century had on the Kendall Tamiami Airport.
When Andrew hit I lived in South Kendall off 137th Avenue, just north of the decimated residential community Country Walk, in the extended area that was severely affected by the storm. I am a Miami native and this was by far the worst hurricane I had been through.
We were fortunate that our family suffered no physical harm. We like most others near us had damage to our house and were without electricity for over a month. The day after the Hurricane we made temporary repairs to our home and tended to our neighbors’ needs, which luckily were also minor.
By the second day it sunk in that recovery from the storm would be a lengthy and cumbersome process. We began to assess damage to other parts of our neighborhood. Although many roads were blocked and power lines strewn all over I was able to drive for a few blocks in the direction of the airport and walk onto the airfield. I was astounded by the way the planes had been tossed about and broken apart as if they were toys. The buildings had been turned into masses of twisted metal. The incongruity of such fastidiously kept places as airplane hangars and aviation maintenance shops being in total disarray was hard to comprehend. When I returned home we were beginning to see the first images of the incredible damage to residential structures just to our south on a battery operated tv.
I decided over the next two weeks to go back to the airport with my camera and large format transparency film from our warm refrigerator. The bright colors and cool white surfaces of the planes glinting in the sun became the outer skins of strange new objects. The scene was so foreign to me, with everything broken and out of place, that I was compelled to find a new point of view. After a few visits I had the notion I was viewing a movie and thought I should try to suspend my disbelief like I would in a theater. I tried to re-frame my perspective and thought in terms of organizing complexity.
These pictures attempt to unscramble the maze of intertwined metal by finding the new designs imposed by nature. They show my effort to make sense of the disarray and find some beauty in the chaos.
Now that I have the courage to look back at these images after having put them away for over 20 years I recognize they are the result of being challenged to see in a new way. I hope they say that by seeking a different perspective to see the daily world we walk through, we can find new ways to appreciate the things and places that surround us.