Cassadaga: Speaking of the Dead

Presented By Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe was allowed unrestricted access to Cassadaga, the Spiritualist community that was founded in central Florida more a century ago on the principle of continuous life, the idea that spirits of the dead commune with the living. Though the founders of Cassadaga have passed on to the “spirit plane,” the quaint Victorian town remains the oldest continuously active center of the religion in the South. This visual presentation looks at the people, place and practices that exemplify Spiritualism–the Camp’s distinctive architecture, ritual life, core beliefs, séances, and healing work.

When Gary Monroe isn’t traveling the world to photograph, he spends his time looking at life in Florida through his photography and his writings. His imagery and his literary works have been recognized by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Humanities Council, and the Fulbright Foundation. His long-term photography projects include Miami’s old-world Jewish community, Haiti and Haitian immigration, and tourism in the Sunshine State.

Focusing on self-taught and vernacular art, Mr. Monroe began his literary pursuits with The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters (UPF, 2001). In this book, he told the story of these painters and offers a fresh interpretation of their art. Consequently, public interest in these compelling, but forgotten, artists was revived. The New York Times wrote a Lively Arts front-page article about the book, saying that “These colorful landscapes… shaped the state’s popular image as much as oranges and alligators.” In subsequent books, including Harold Newton: The Original Highwayman and The Highwaymen Murals: Al Black’s Concrete Dreams, Mr. Monroe continued to tell this inspiring story. Additionally, he has brought the Highwaymen story to the citizenry of Florida through some 250 public lectures. Based on his nomination, these painters were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. He has written other books about Florida art, including Extraordinary Interpretations: Self-taught Florida Artists (2003), Silver Springs: the Underwater Photographs of Bruce Mozert (2008), and Florida’s American Heritage River: Images from the St. Johns Region (2009).

More information on Gary Monroe can be found on his website:

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Gary Monroe