In December of 2020 beloved Tampa photographer and educator Suzanne Camp Crosby died. She had taught generations of students at the Hillsborough Community College where she had been a professor of photography for 38 years. Camp Crosby had the prestigious honor of being the 2004 City of Tampa Photo Laureate and the exhibition resulting from that body of work, Suzanne Camp Crosby: 2004 Photo Laureate City of Tampa Public Art – Big Picture Project, was presented at the Tampa Museum of Art that same year. Other awards include a Southeast Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in 1978-79.
The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA) has gratefully accepted the task of helping to place the photographic archives of this beloved artist. This collection includes more than 725 photographs spanning her career of over 40 years. A broad selection of this work will be brought into the collection of FMoPA, with an exhibition to follow in the summer of 2022. Other institutions in the area are also considering simultaneous showings. University of Tampa student Alyssa R. Miller has signed on to help with the documenting and digitizing of this body of work. This will help make it possible to distribute photographs to other institutions, with limited works to be sold to help finance the efforts. Examples of her photography are already currently held in the collections of FMoPA, the Tampa Museum of Art (TMA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, among many others. Three wonderful examples of her talent are currently on view at the TMA’s exhibition Her World in Focus: Women Photographers from the Permanent Collection, on view until June 27, 2021.
Camp Crosby’s solo exhibitions include Suzanne Camp Crosby: Kid City, 2009 at FMoPA, and multiple exhibitions at the HCC Galleries, where she eventually became the Program Manager for the Visual Art and Dance departments in addition to her teaching and exhibitions. She also taught and received her MFA at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Additional schools where she was an instructor include the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL, and the St. Petersburg College, Clearwater campus.
Camp Crosby specialized in creating thematically directed photographs, created by adding unexpected objects or people to mostly everyday scenes. Her artwork is often playful and witty. Early work included tender black and white compositions often using her children or friends to create evocative scenes. Later photographs brought in color and experimentation. Examples include the juxtaposition of life-sized 2-D paper doll cut-outs of 1950s movie stars to real-life mundane household settings, as well as a wide selection of other artificial items placed into real-life settings. As a visual storyteller, she continued to explore and experiment with ideas and themes throughout her lengthy career.
Stay tuned for more updates as this important body of work gets cataloged, digitized, and distributed. And mark your calendars for the upcoming exhibition. The summer of 2022 is not THAT far away!