Gary Monroe was born in 1951 and raised in the changing environment of Miami Beach. He attended the University of South Florida for his undergraduate degree and received a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Colorado in 1977. Returning to Miami Beach, he began photographing the life of South Beach, and in particular, the disappearing Jewish culture. For ten years he documented the changes occurring in the area and has left an astonishing visual record of the period. In 1980 Monroe became interested in the Haitian refugees who were sailing to South Florida’s shores and received unprecedented access to photograph the area’s Krome Resettlement Camp. He would continue to document Haitian’s acculturation in South Florida and the Haitian Diaspora in general, eventually travelling to Haiti twenty-four times under the aid of a Fulbright fellowship in order to document life in the nation.
Moving to Central Florida in 1987, Monroe would become intrigued with tourist attractions and in particular, commercialized Disney World presenting documentary realism under the auspices of the Florida State Univeristy Museum and grants from the Florida Humanities Council. Many of his images have been concerned with foreign cultures since 1990 with Monroe traveling to such locations as India, Egypt, Israel, and Brazil documenting the socio-political realities of the nations and mounting exhibitions concerning his various photographic series. Since the mid-1980s, Monroe has worked to write and educate the public about different groups of artists. Monroe was appointed to the Florida Humanities in 1998 and he has authored several books particularly on various Floridian artists. He has lectured nationwide, and assists collectors and museums in education about photography, international cultures, and of course Florida and the artists that have called the state home.