Nature photographer Clyde Butcher, who has the ability to make Florida’s wild places resemble scenes from the Garden of Eden, will be the featured speaker at the St. Petersburg College Village Square Series this month.
Butcher, who has been called “the Ansel Adams of Florida” and “a national treasure,” will speak on “Preserving Eden” from 6-8:15 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Conference Center at the Seminole Campus of SPC, 9200 113th St. N. Advance reservation is required.
Butcher, who in a digital age relies upon simple, old-fashioned box cameras to capture his large-scale images, is being sponsored by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions through a grant from the Florida Humanities Council. Media co-sponsors are the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU Television.
An exhibit of 36 of Butcher’s photographs hangs at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at SPC’s Tarpon Springs campus through Feb. 16. The exhibit includes photographs that express the personal bond between Butcher and Florida’s natural landscapes. Some are as large as 4-by-5 feet.
Butcher’s dramatic black-and-white photographs of Florida wilderness landscapes have been said to “make your heart beat faster” or even “to change your life.” Florida has recognized Butcher’s talent by giving him the highest award offered to a private citizen: the Artist Hall of Fame Award. He has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association and was named Humanitarian of the Year for 2005 from the International University. In 2011, he received the 2011 Distinguished Artist Award from the Florida House in Washington, D.C.
Butcher is meticulous, and deliberately slow, in choosing and then executing his shots. He often takes months to scout out the right location, and often the shot involves standing in waist-deep swamp water for hours waiting for just the right light or the right cloud formation, sharing the swamp with alligators, snakes and other wildlife. His goal, he says, is “to take pictures that make people feel like they want to walk into them. I want people to be drawn in and feel their way through the environment.” He considers wilderness areas to be “a sacred necessity”, and that “the mysterious experience of being close to nature is restorative.. . .healing to the human soul.”
The Village Square at SPC is a forum for non-partisan debate of key state and national issues that operates under the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at SPC. The Institute serves as a resource for academic enrichment, a non-partisan venue for civil debate and civic engagement.
Registration for Village Square members is $25; for guests, $30, and for educators and students, $20. They can be made online at spcollege.edu/solutions, click on the Village Square tab. By mail, send checks to Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, P.O. Box 13489, St. Petersburg, FL 33733.