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Mangrove Coast
Photos by Barry Fellman

For over 20 years native Miami artist Barry Fellman has been photographing the world of marine life around South Florida’s mangroves. His dramatic photographs of the Biscayne Bay coastline are epic in portraying the spirit of place. Fellman tells his story by sharing the thrill of investigation, which he initially felt as a child growing up in South Dade, exploring the beaches and swamps of this robust yet delicate environment; the mangrove ecosystem.

Fellman’s series, Mangrove Coast, provides an experience in itself that begins with curiosity and ends with enlightenment on what initially appears to be strange yet familiar. Fellman’s images transport you to a place that, at first, seems so abstract, so foreign, that you could be looking at wildly textured paintings or the surface of another planet. His pictures seduce you, inviting you closer to understand what you are seeing. As you approach the images they clarify into the familiar forms of sea grass and shells, yet basic notions of scale and distance remain unknown until your nose is nearly pressed against the photograph. It is then that you realize you are looking at a strange and fantastic view of the shoreline near the beach where you went swimming last summer.

Fellman’s impressive works connect our personal experiences with our own deeper wisdom of the place we live in. This profound lesson deepens our understanding through the element of surprise, excitement of discovery and finally through recognition. Fellman’s intent to create images as tools for teaching succeeds on many levels and his photographs are being used in educational programs for early learners as well as adults.

Building these connections is crucial to preserving the mangrove habitat, the lynchpin of our natural landscape. The mangrove ecosystem provides shoreline protection and is the most important factor in supporting the recreational and commercial activities that have allowed our community to prosper. It recycles nutrients and serves as breeding and feeding grounds for hundreds of species, nurturing a wide range of marine life, amphibians, birds, and mammals.

Says Fellman, “The elements that make up this zone between sea and land are rich and diverse. They are constantly changing and are a continuing source of inspiration. They challenge me to reinvent the way I see, much as they reinvent the way they assemble themselves after each change in tide.”

Barry Fellman has been a long time contributor to Miami’s cultural landscape. He has served as curator at the Metropolitan Museum and Art Center in Coral Gables, the Gallery at Deutsche Bank’s flagship Manhattan location and Books and Co.’s Madison Avenue gallery. Mr. Fellman is currently director of Miami’s Center for Visual Communication where he has been responsible for organizing and presenting programs that bring visual arts to audiences at public venues in South Florida including Adrienne Arsht Center, Biscayne National Park, Dade and Broward County Public Schools, Department of Environmental Resources Management, Miami Dade Transit Authority and South Florida Water Management District. Barry Fellman studied art and art history at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. He is a Silver Knight awardee and is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant for visual art.