© Wayne Lawrence
Welcome to the Bronx Riviera.
I reviewed Wayne Lawrence's Urban Beach Week, Miami, series, and interviewed him last year for Emerging Photographer. What a pleasure to engage with a young photographer who came a little later to the art and who has embraced exactly what it is they love, with marvelous results. Over the years of representing the estate of Yousuf Karsh I have learned a lot about portraits; we benefit from the connection Wayne is able to make in such a short time.
"Orchard Beach, a mile-long sliver of constructed shoreline, has long served as an oasis for generations of working-class families living in an environment defined by struggle, yet is embedded in the imagination of many as a ghetto beach carrying all the stereotypes associated with the hood. As the only beach in the Bronx, the stigma attached to Orchard is due in part to the complex history of a borough stained by a tumultuous past and loaded with racial, cultural, and socio-economic undertones. With this series, I determined to create a body of work in celebration of this community at Orchard Beach and have sought to exalt the souls who have allowed me to share their space.
I began the journey to the heart of the Riviera at a crucial point in my personal life. I was a father and wounded, having witnessed the birth of my son a few years earlier, only to experience the most profound grief a year later when my older brother David was brutally murdered. Finding a sense of community at Orchard Beach has allowed me the time and space to reflect on the importance of family and to find my voice as a photographer.
I've approached this work instinctually and see every person portrayed here as magnificent in their own way. To stand face-to-face with the souls in these images is to accept them as they are without prejudice because ultimately, we are all one.
Bearing witness to the polarities of human existence is what drives me to do this work. I am interested in examining the totality of life with all its complexities from our entry into this world as raw potential to the day we no longer exist."
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