SUNRISE — The images, all 35 of the them, capture the soul of Jamaica, from the men engaged in a game of dominoes to the schoolgirls walking down a road in Blue Mountain.
Ask photographer David Muir why he focused on such everyday people and he replies bluntly, “I was homesick.”
Muir, 43, left St. Andrew, Jamaica about 15 years ago, and settled in New York before moving to Sunrise with his wife and two sons 10 years ago
“I was missing the street culture,” he said. So he got in a car and drove, stopping whenever and wherever he saw a scene he thought was photo worthy.
“I didn’t want to take pictures of the beaches and things people consider traditionally beautiful,” he said. “When I look at the facial expressions of the people it’s much more telling and powerful. It’s our culture through the eyes of individuals.”
After about 20 trips, he had a range of scenes and subjects and stories to tell, he said. He thought he could turn it into a book. But when a friend invited him in 2010 to put some of his work on display, he jumped at the opportunity.
The exhibit, “Pieces of Jamaica,” has appeared in Miramar,Lauderhill and the African American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale. About 400 people attended its debut at the City of Sunrise Gallery last month, where it runs through Feb. 25. A closing ceremony with music, art and poetry will be held on Feb.22.
“The response has been phenomenal,” said Muir, adding it prompted him to take the craft more seriously and make it his full time job. “I’ve seen some people cry. So many people have said it tugs at your heartstrings.”
The exhibit has special resonance in South Florida, where about 160,000 people call Jamaica home.
Karen Vick, of Fort Lauderdale, left Jamaica about 25 years ago as a teen. She said Muir’s photos allowed her to see places she never got a chance to visit.
Andrea John Baptiste, of Sunrise, said, “David does a real good job at capturing the essence and the reality of Jamaica.’
Having a personal connection to Jamaica helps Muir to disarm the people he shoots, he said. “Most people don’t want their picture taken. They want to know, why would you show this as art?”
Not everyone appreciates their candid shots. He recalled a tailor he shot in Spanish Town, who talked non-stop while he worked. Muir said when he returned about a year later, the man “was so upset. He said ‘you had to take the picture while I was talking.’”
Eventually they laughed about it, he said.
Geast@tribune.com or 954-572-2078.
If you go
What: Pieces of Jamaica photo exhibit
Where: City of Sunrise Civic Center Art Gallery, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, through Feb. 25.
More information: Call 954-747-4647