Sunshine State is a photographic series documenting the visual and cultural complexity of the contemporary Florida tourist landscape.
Florida was admitted to the union in 1845, six years after the birth of photography. Throughout its history the state has been portrayed to the outside world through carefully constructed images. Many of the tourist attractions first marketed to mid-century American tourists (Weeki Wachee, Cypress Gardens, etc.) were man-made “improvements” on nature. Postcards sent home reflected this constructed ideal. A cycle of representation began that represented the state as an unspoiled tropical paradise.
My family moved to Florida when I was eleven. What I discovered is that the lived experience of growing up in paradise doesn’t always look like it does on the postcards. I didn’t wrestle alligators or cavort with mermaids. Though the origins of that ideal are never far away, on a given day it’s more likely that you’ll see a mural of a shark on the side of a building than actually run into one in real life.
In this body of work, I am interested in examining the places where the banal everyday and the tourist fantasy coexist. My intent is to deconstruct the idyllic Florida traditionally depicted and reconstruct a more accurate representation of the tourist landscape.