March 2013



Calle Teniente Rey-y Cuba, 2002

Artist’s Statement

In June of 1953, I made my first trip to Cuba. I was seven years old. This trip was before the start of the Cuban Revolution. My aunt, Bede, and her gentleman friend, Big George, who owned a gambling house on the outskirts of New Orleans, decided to include me and my aunt, Cakie, and her husband, Joe, on one of their trips to Cuba. The five of us set out from Biloxi, Mississippi, on a June morning in a Cadillac with no air conditioning. The plan was to drive to Miami where we would fly to Havana. By the time we reached Tampa, the adults had grown tired of the heat and of having to sing “High Noon”, my favorite song that summer, and we flew from Tampa to Havana. In Havana, we stayed at the Hotel Nacional. From our hotel room window, I could see the Malecon and the Monument to the U.S.S. Maine. Years later, I realized that while I was swimming in the kidney-shaped pool at the Nacional in June 1953, Fidel was holed up in a sixth floor apartment a few blocks away from the Nacional, planning the first action of the Revolution, the attack on the Moncada barracks. Although I can’t remember how many days we spent in Havana, the memories of the 1953 trip left a lasting impression on me.
The memories from the 1953 trip lured me to return to Cuba in 1988 on what I call a “joys of socialism” tour. I made three photographic trips in the early 21st century specifically to work on the streets of Havana and in the province of Pinar del Rio and the Valle de Los Ingenios outside of Trinidad. The photographs in this article are from the body of work made on the trips of 2000, 2002, and 2005.




Nell Campbell is a documentary photographer living in Santa Barbara. Campbell was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, and spent her childhood years in New Orleans and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Campbell’s forty-year pursuit of documentary projects includes subjects concerned with cultural representation and issues of social justice: anti-war demonstrations of the Vietnam and Iraq wars; organizing drives of the United Farm Workers Union in 1976; a six-year project on Mardi Gras in New Orleans; panorama landscape photographs of wetlands in southwest Louisiana; documentation of Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; street photography in Havana, Cuba, and campesinos in the Pinar del Rio and Valle de los Ingenios regions of rural Cuba; and her current project,Duck Blinds : Louisiana, an eleven-year documentation of handmade hunting blinds located on the Calcasieu River and its adjoining waterways near Lake Charles.

In addition to her photographic work, Campbell works as a teacher, photo editor, and writer. Louisiana Cultural Vistas, the magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, published two of her photographic essays in 2004 and 2006. An image from Duck Blinds : Louisiana was published in the January 2012 issue of Harper’s. Since 2000, Campbell has been writing profile articles on photographers which have been published inPhotographer’s Forum, BW, and Color magazines.

A selection of images from Duck Blinds : Louisiana was exhibited at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans in April 2012. Campbell is represented by the Jane Deering Gallery of Santa Barbara, California, and Gloucester, Massachusetts. Campbell’s photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.