Photographer Richard Sexton Coming to Miami to Discuss Latest Work, Creole World
The concept of "Creole" is far more complex than most people who only had a passing interest in their 8th grade history courses might recognize. To most Miamians, it's a language spoken in Haiti and among the burgeoning Haitian population of the city. That's far too much of a simplification, even if you only want to look at Creole languages, which are defined in one Wikipedia line as "a stable, full-fledged language that originated from a mixture of two or more languages." And while that's a simplification as well, it should give you a sense of the greater scope of culture and people that the term "Creole" encompasses.
Courtesy of the Historic New Orleans Collection Street scene near the Marché de Fer; Cap Haitien, Haiti, 2012; ©Richard Sexton, from "Creole World: Photography of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere"
From the island of Haiti, to the parishes of New Orleans, to the mountainous villages of the Central American isthmus, the roots and tendrils of Creole identity in the Americas and the Caribbean have been growing and becoming more and more a part of their respective home cultures.
That process and the results thereof have been of great interest to Richard Sexton, a photographer and resident of New Orleans for almost 25 years, whose most recent work is called Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere. Saturday night, he'll give a reading at Books and Books in Coral Gables. New Times sat down and got acquainted with Sexton in order to get you acquainted with Sexton.
For Richard Sexton, his interest in Creole culture started some 40 years ago with a long journey and an array of cultures he wouldn't see again for almost 20 years.
"It started when I was 20 years old and in college," Sexton said. "I did this grand car trip to Latin America. I was gone for six months and I made it all the way to Bolivia and back over land. I visited every country in Central America, I visited Roatán Island, and I went to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia."
After his time outside the country, Sexton returned to the states and lived in San Francisco until 1991. That was when he moved to New Orleans, where he has remained ever since and where he has come to call home.
Courtesy of the Historic New Orleans Collection Classical Revival villa, Getsemani neighborhood; Cartagena, Colombia, 2010; ©Richard Sexton, "Creole World: Photography of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere"
"I became very attuned to New Orleans and its connection to the Caribbean and to Latin America," Sexton said. "So in 2006, I returned to Latin America for the first time since 1974, which is kind of what initiated this final phase of the project...Creole World is a combination of a handful of very early photographs from 1974, photographs from the entire 23-year period that I've lived in New Orleans, and eight years of photography from around the Caribbean and Latin America going up to the present."
The collection is not simply limited to the photographs, which are striking in their color palette and their vivid cultural content, but also contains essays by Jay Edwards and John H. Lawrence that add even greater context to the visual richness of Sexton's work. The desire to create this collection, according to Sexton, was a result of his adopted home in Louisiana.