Sneak Peek: Michael Cevoli’s “Beakheads and Cutwater”
A Rhode Island-based photographer captures the local fishing industry with striking, gritty photos of work at sea.
Michael Cevoli grew up on the water. In his earliest memories from childhood, he’s fishing with his dad. He remembers, too, going overboard on a boating excursion during a family vacation. He was scooped up quick, but he learned something important that day: The ocean is as dangerous as it is beautiful.
Cevoli’s latest exhibition of photography, “Beakheads and Cutwater,” which is on display at the Audubon Environmental Education Center from July 3 through August 31, documents a summer on the water with Rhode Island’s fishermen and women.
“Commercial fishing is an industrial job — a dangerous job,” Cevoli says. “When you mix in something as terrifying as the ocean, the realities are not a Norman Rockwell painting.”
He enjoyed the project, which commenced during the summer of 2012. Every day was an adventure. As a photographer who makes a living on commercial and editorial assignments, Cevoli liked working outside.
“You can’t beat that, as a day at work for a photographer,” he says. “If I was a fisherman, though, I might feel differently.”
Over the course of the summer, he gained an observer’s perspective on hot-button issues in the industry, including overfishing.
“On both sides of things, people are frustrated and seemingly would like to have some kind of resolve,” he says. “But [fishermen and women] consider themselves to be environmentalists. They don’t want to overfish because then they put themselves out of work.”
Cevoli also befriended his subjects, including Steve Menard (above), a fisherman who has spent his life working on the water. Cevoli, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, says Menard and fisherwoman, Corey Wheeler, invited him to the docks immediately after he was released from the hospital.
“I started shooting again, five days later,” Cevoli says. He wrapped his final round of chemo this month. “It was a way to stay distracted and be physical — a huge help, mentally."
Cevoli’s “Beakheads and Cutwater” is on view at the Audubon Environmental Education Center, 1401 Hope Street, Bristol, from July 3 to August 31. The exhibition is free with Audubon admission. For more information about Cevoli’s work, visit michaelcevoli.com.