During the late 1700s and early 1800s, enslaved Africans escaped into the American wilderness and formed their own communities, sometimes in isolation, and other times near indigenous populations. They became known as “cimarrón” or maroon communities. One such southern haven was the area of land that was to become the state of Florida, and the wilderness of the Everglades.
In commemoration of Black History Month, Artists in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE) presents The Four Moments of the Sun: Hidden Lands of Florida’s Maroon Communities, an exhibition featuring the work of AIRIE Fellow Jeanine Michna-Bales. Bringing together contemporary photography, oral and written histories and extensive historical research, Michna-Bales weaves together the forgotten stories of Florida’s Maroon communities, groups of former slaves who established their own societies in the wilderness of 18th and 19th century Florida.
Michna-Bales narrates this history of escaped slaves through a visual timeline that spans the circumference of the gallery walls, annotated by historical notes and photographs by the artist shot on site at historical locations. Audio excerpts from government records, period texts, newspapers, letters and oral histories will play on loop throughout the gallery, along with ambient noises found in the forests and swamps used for refuge.
Florida’s Maroon Communities were bands of former slaves who had in established societies of their own in different areas of Florida including remote locations such as the Everglades, places where they could not easily be surprised by soldiers or slave catchers.
Curated by Deborah Mitchell.