2015-03-26 / Front Page

Photographer Fills 'Green Space' at Airport

By James Merolla


Sandy Nesbitt, of Newport, was chosen by the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts to install his photography at T.F. Green Airport. The massive multi-panel collage above shows the inside of a Soviet submarine that was formerly a museum on the Providence waterfront. Sandy Nesbitt, of Newport, was chosen by the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts to install his photography at T.F. Green Airport. The massive multi-panel collage above shows the inside of a Soviet submarine that was formerly a museum on the Providence waterfront. A piece of Fort Adams captured in a forgotten photograph from nearly 15 years ago is on display on the walls of T.F. Green Airport in Warwick for a whole new traveling audience to see.

Three photos that haven’t been seen in years, taken by Newport photographer Alexander “Sandy” Nesbitt, are part of a provocative exhibit at the airport through the end of March.

“The gist is that this is old, almost forgotten, work. I had no place large enough to hang it. I had moved on to travel and adventure photography, but always had this work in mind. I finally found a venue to show them. Now, it is an exciting revival and evolution to see my own art in the airport as I head off to shoot travel,” said Nesbitt, who flew to Thailand in March on assignment. He has visited more than two dozen countries to capture images. “It’s quite amazing to look at the arc of a career like that,” he observed.


Strategically positioned photo panels, nearly two- by-three feet each, of a Fort Adams redoubt fill a wall at T.F. Green Airport. Strategically positioned photo panels, nearly two- by-three feet each, of a Fort Adams redoubt fill a wall at T.F. Green Airport. Commissioned to hang on separate “Green Space” walls by a partnership between the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts and the R.I. Airport Corporation, the large fine art pieces are hung in a sliced array of panels creating a blackand white whole. “They grow right off the wall,” said Nesbitt.

The airport commissions are designed to promote outstanding work of notable Rhode Island artists in exhibitions throughout the year.

Nesbitt has been a photographer for 25 years, picking up the camera during his college years. He gave up trying to become an engineer and even a sculptor before his first photography class framed his career. “I love to make things,” said Nesbitt.

These large-scale pieces were part of a series Nesbitt created years ago. In the past decade, photography has changed dramatically. The original prints were made with negatives pieced together in a darkroom. This time around, the newly-generated panels (which blend seamlessly with the originals) were digital prints made from scanned negatives.

The selected works are images of a redoubt at Fort Adams, a little known section separate from the main fort, the missile launch controls of a former submarine known as Juliet 484 that sunk off R.I. shores and was turned into a museum, and a small abandoned building, the Thyssen Steel Mill in Essen, Germany.

The 11 panels for the larger Fort Adams piece are 20 by 30 inches each. Six- and eight-inch bolts were needed to hold the complicated assembly out from the wall.

“You can’t do it on the floor. The critical elements have to line up,” he added.

An airport, or course, makes for a terrific photo album.

“The idea was to resurrect them from storage because the Green Space project at the airport seemed to offer a suitably-sized venue,” said Nesbitt, 48. “There was an application process and jury and curator who determine what gets shown in this section of the airport. I sent them photos of the work from 2003, when it was originally in the Newport Art Museum.”

Curator Molly Dickenson selected the pieces and organized the installation, which she and Nesbitt did together. Two other artists are featured in adjoining sections and are part of the three-artist show: photographer Cate Brown and painter Kathy Hodge.

While the Fort Adams piece fits its space seamlessly, the bigger, Juliet 484 piece is powerful. “This is pretty cold industrial type airport architecture; it seems to overpower most things and is a genuinely challenging place to exhibit,” added Nesbitt. “But I think the Juliet is very dramatic in a huge space.”

Speaking of spaces, Nesbitt is moving his Blink Gallery to a new site at 89 Thames St. “I’ll be showing my work from Thailand as soon as I get the place up and running,” he said. “To me, the game is still to shoot a frame which excerpts an image from the world in such a way that it is graphically striking and thought-provoking.”

Return to top