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Project Statement

by J. Gelles

Leisure Living Estates is an adult mobile home community in Melbourne Beach, Florida. On a friend’s recommendation, my father bought a mobile home in Melbourne Beach in 1982 to get away from the icy New Hampshire winters, and my husband Richard and I and our two sons, Jason and David, have visited every January since then. My parents’ mobile home faces the golf course. It is not unusual to come back to the mobile home, after a day at the beach, to find a golf ball underneath the kitchen or living room window. Up to now, there have been no injuries. My parents do not play golf, but they say they like the view. On our first visit, I took a family portrait of the six of us in the back of the mobile home facing the golf course. This has since become a yearly tradition. I use a Hasselblad camera on a tripod with a long cable release, and everyone gets two turns squeezing the bulb. Each year, I try to place family members in the same position as the year before, but it doesn't always work. Most of the time everyone complains that it’s taking too long, and I should just take it and get it over with. Some years I take it the first day we arrive, just to get it over with, and some years, I wait until the last possible moment, just before we’re getting ready to leave for the airport. Even though everyone complains, there is a certain intimacy and family togetherness that happens during those twelve exposures. Since 1982, the boys have grown noticeably taller, Richard and I have stayed about the same, my mother has shrunk, and my father has disappeared. Although Florida Family Portrait began as a personal recording, it has turned into a social document.

Florida Family Portrait




type: initiating


publication: 2002-00-00

Visual Studies Workshop Press

type: initiating



type: other


Aesthetic Profile

other Personal and Social Documentary

autobiography (AAT)

themes: The changing structure and stories of families. [T. Shaw]

content form:
documentary (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

community: workshop Visual Studies Workshop [T. Shaw]

Related Documents

manuscript type: other

location: artist's archive