For the month of June, SALT Gallery (830 Fleming St., www.saltislandprovisions.com) will feature a new collection of vibrant nature photographs by local photographer Jessica Connell. To celebrate Connell’s new works, SALT will be hosting an opening reception at the gallery from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, May 31.
“Growing up, I was always fascinated with the ocean,” Connell says. “After obtaining my B.S. in marine science, I moved to the Florida Keys to purse my career on the water. Over the past seven years I have worked mating on boats, diving for researchers, kayak and snorkel guiding and spreading awareness of environmental issues in the keys through working for Reef Relief, the Florida Parks Service, volunteering and teaching. My passion for nature and underwater photography has carried through the various experiences I have had in the Florida Keys.”
Connell has loved nature for as long as she can remember. “Growing up, I was inspired by television hosts like Steve Irwin and researchers such as Sylvia Earle to study the ocean,” she explains. “As I got older, the videographers from series such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth and photographers such as Paul Nickel have filled me with a passion to capture nature in its rawest states. I love sharing the irreplaceable experiences I have with nature with people from all around the world. I want my photography to inspire people to preserve the environment and the amazing wildlife we share it with.”
A profound reverence for the natural environment of the Florida Keys is reflected in Connell’s photographs. “The Florida Keys landscape is my inspiration,” she exclaims. “The turtles grazing the sea grass beds, the birds flying amongst the mangroves and the warm waters holding the colorful reef and marine life inspire me to take pictures. Our ecosystems are very unique — the third largest barrier reef lies in the backyard of the Florida Keys. Enjoying and preserving nature’s gifts is my inspiration to create art.”
Connell’s exhibit at SALT — her first at the gallery — will consist of photographs ranging in size and medium, including canvas, metal and acrylic prints. “I am excited to say my show at SALT will be my first ever,” she says. “I have chosen some of my favorite images from the Florida Keys and selected mediums and frames which I feel capture the energy of the events they depict. Colors, light and nature in its purest form is what I have tried to embody in this exhibit. Some of the images are framed and others float right off the wall. These photographs capture moments in nature, above and below water — moments where light, color, water and nature’s most fascinating creatures come together in a beautiful way.”
“Jessica’s photographs are a stunning tribute to the landscape that surrounds us,” says gallery owner Laura Richardson. “Her ability to capture the beauty and tranquility of the natural environment while still conveying its energy is masterful and we couldn’t be more excited to show her photos at SALT.”
SALT Gallery features an eclectic collection of local art, local sea salts, jewelry, pottery, wine and Florida Keys honey. Gallery owners Maria Sharpe and Laura Richardson feature a new artist each month at SALT. Szilagyi’s work will remain on display through the end of June. For more information, call 305- 517-6088 or visit www.saltislandprovisions.com. ¦