AEQAI has been looking for over a year for a group of photographs that we offer as our own contribution to FotoFocus. Both the amount and quality of photographs we saw from regional, national, and international photographers has been unbelievably strong, consistent with the high quality of work exhibited during FotoFocus 2014 here. Raymond Adams, a native of Lexington, KY, has been working on a series of color photographs which utilize New York’s Coney Island as the backdrop for his narrative and aesthetic explorations. We chose color photographs, since their acceptance in the world of fine art photography is still relatively new. We also note, as a general observation, that lines of demarcation between commercial and fine art photography, and documentary/photojournalism photographs, no longer need to be separated from “fine art photography”. Adams’ photographs could fit in any of these categories. Their greatest strength is the combination, in them, of the celebratory nature and ongoing symbolism of Coney Island as a place of leisure and pleasure for so many new immigrant groups in this country. You will see people from myriads of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds all through these photographs, which remind us that the myth of the melting pot is not entirely a myth. Adams, a phenomenal portraitist, also uses the “freak show” aspect of Coney Island to welcome and include formerly marginalized ideas and people into this mainstream venue. He lets Coney Island stand for the newly emerging USA.

–Daniel Brown

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