Photographer leaves imprint on Daytona State

Michele Meyers

In Motion Staff Writer


“Please cut me off if I talk too much,” laughed Carlos Betancourt as he shared fond memories of his childhood. He sat with James Pearson, director of the Southeast Museum of Photography, in front of the Madorsky Theater crowd at his exhibit’s November 9 reception. “I was born and raised in Puerto Rico of Cuban parents and we lived there ’til I was about fifteen. My mother tells me I was always interested in art. Puerto Rico was a place where the culture had been mixing and blending for centuries and I think that’s where my interest in photography collage was nurtured.”

The Carlos Betancourt: Imprinted exhibit opened at the Southeast Museum of Photography on October 17 and can be experienced through December 9. Professor Gary Monroe of the Daytona State College photography program and a close friend of Betancourt, planted the seed of the exhibition with Pearson who in turn drove to Miami to meet with the artist. “We would not be here if we did not feel a sense of home,” explained Carlos’ partner and artistic collaborator, Alberto Latorre. Carlos referred to Alberto as his dream maker during the lecture. “That is the first time he has ever called me that, “ he smiled.

Paige Petersen and her roommate check out Amulet for Light I (Gold) as Carlos Betancourt chats with one of his constituents.
Nelson Fuentes, a second semester student of the photography program, gazed at a circular blue collage nestled in the corner of the exhibit. It is printed on glass and is an assemblage of Betancourt’s memories. “This is my favorite piece. My first response to it was a longing. I get choked up just describing it. It was about again, memory. It reminded me of my mother. Of all his pieces, that’s the piece that brought me in because the other pieces are exploding outwardly.” In many of his pieces, Betancourt uses images from his personal collection of clipart. He has well over 10,000 images which he has fastidiously photographed, removed the background and saved to his library. He then retrieves select images from his archive for use in the creative process of photography collage.
“I think the sooner you embrace your identity, where you come from, your family, your background, the sooner you embrace it; the good and the bad and stay with the good, be an optimist, select it, honor it, I think the faster you figure out who you are, what your voice is. This applies to everything from a gardner, an artist, an architect. Go back to that place and I mean stop for a second and embrace who you are and not what pop culture is telling you to be.”