Haiti & Cuba photography exhibit on display

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Wed., Feb. 5, 2014
Friend and fellow artist Debbie Staley talks with Joel Davidson about his photography and experiences in Haiti and Cuba at the exhibit's opening on Sunday, Feb. 2. Davidson is involved with both the South Windsor Haiti Preschool and the Haiti Health Foundation, and has traveled to Cuba as part of a cultural exchange.  Photos by Annie Gentile.
Friend and fellow artist Debbie Staley talks with Joel Davidson about his photography and experiences in Haiti and Cuba at the exhibit's opening on Sunday, Feb. 2. Davidson is involved with both the South Windsor Haiti Preschool and the Haiti Health Foundation, and has traveled to Cuba as part of a cultural exchange. Photos by Annie Gentile.

Haiti and Cuba are two countries mired in poverty, but Tolland photographer Joel D. Davidson’s photography admirably reaches beyond the ongoing struggles of their peoples to capture a quiet dignity.  The result - “Haiti and Cuba: The Essence of the Human Spirit,” a photographic exhibit on display at the South Windsor Public Library - is well worth visiting.

Whether photographing a worker on a tobacco farm, a man casting a fishing net, a woman preparing a mid-day meal, or a couple of men playing a game of chess on a cloth board, Davidson seamlessly blends images of abject poverty with the simple tasks and pleasures of daily life.

“I’m involved with the South Windsor Haiti School, and this exhibit is in conjunction with that,” said Davidson, referring to the pre-school for girls that was started through the efforts of local physician Saud Anwar, now South Windsor’s mayor. A dentist, Davidson has been to Haiti three times and helped to set up a dental clinic at the school, which is located near the capital, Port-Au-Prince, an area that was severely impacted by the 2010 earthquake.

Davidson also lends his support to the Haiti Health Foundation, providing routine dental care to the people living in the city of Jeremie and in the surrounding rural mountain villages. Jeremie is about an eight-hour drive from Port-Au-Prince.

“Cuba is in the same area of the world, and the people there are also very poor,” Davidson said, adding that while the United States has no diplomatic relationship with the Communist country, Cuba has begun allowing people-to-people cultural exchanges in such areas as education, photography and art. It was through one of these cultural exchanges that Davidson was able to visit and take photographs in Cuba. “There is a charter flight every day now from Miami to Cuba. Things are opening up there,” said Davidson.

An award-winning photographer, Davidson has been taking photographs since childhood, starting first with a Kodak Brownie, and gradually moving on to more sophisticated and modern equipment. He is most interested in portraiture and wildlife, and several of his prints are on permanent display at university hospitals in Cleveland.

“Haiti and Cuba: The Essence of the Human Spirit” will be on display at the South Windsor Public Library through Feb. 28 during regular library hours. Proceeds from the exhibit and donations are gratefully accepted for the benefit of the South Windsor Haiti School.


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