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Her large color photographs capture intimate glimpses of her relatives’ homes, the details of which reveal their conflicted feelings about life under Castro, from an official portrait of the president laminated to a bedside table to an aspirational ceramic sailing ship placed atop a vintage TV.In Barbados, Haverford photographer William Earle Williams continues a project of three decades that has taken him across North America, England, and the Caribbean, shooting spaces, landscapes, and structures related to African and African American history.Ivette Spradlin, a Cuban American photographer and video artist based in Pittsburgh, is represented here by a series of photographs she took during a trip to Cuba in 2006 to visit family members.(Spradlin’s mother fled communist Cuba in the late 1960s, and Spradlin grew up in Miami).Springer’s work also speaks poignantly of memory and loss, referencing the sense of displacement she experienced as the daughter of a Bajan father and Jamaican mother growing up in Ontario. Her photograph of a group of open cubes on a beach in Barbados, along with a subsequent photograph of the same structures lying broken on the sand, struck me as an uncanny foretelling of the current hurricane ravagings of various Caribbean islands.So did a haunting photograph of solid white rectangular forms floating in the sea off a Nassau beach.
But their warning-sign-yellow backgrounds allude to much more: to future battles, as well as to the mundane fake-parchment facsimiles of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address sold at tourist traps.That same perspective, now applied to the Caribbean Sea, informs “The Expanded Caribbean: Contemporary Photography at the Crossroads,” curated by Gold at Drexel University’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery.That cultural connectivity is borne out in the works of 16 photographers and artists Gold has selected for her exhibition.Barbados-born Kara Springer constructs minimalist white structures and places them in island seascapes as temporary installations, which she then photographs.Her 2014 series “Repositioned Objects” brings sculptor Donald Judd to mind — his 1965 essay “Specific Objects” addressed a new art combining elements of painting and sculpture.