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Breaking Barriers logo


Through Our lens


Through Our Lens Home
Leslie Elsasser - Introduction
Selina Roman - Looking Inward, Seeing Clearer
Christian Cortes

Beginning (Section A)
Jarrett Gafford - US Air Force
Dawn S. Hargrett - US Navy
Rebekka Huneke - Daughter of US Air Force Veteran Father
Ramonita Rosa - US Army
Kimberlee Nicole Smith - US Army
Monika Sutton - Wife of US Army Veteran
Karl Young II - US Army Colonel (US Special Operations Command)

Advanced (Section B)
James Alexander - US Air Force
Manfredo Bobadilla - US Army
Wildalys Class - US Air Force
Agustin Collazo Jr. - US Marine Corps / US Navy
Amanda Dodd - US Army
Evan Fountain - US Air Force
Mikko Maki - US Marine Corps
Alicia Morales - US Army
RaeAnne Swanson - US Air Force


James Alexander, Biography-brotherly-spend, 2022.

James Alexander, Biography-brotherly-spend, 2022.



Growing up, my parents would take me to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. In front of the park was an old steam engine with its coal tender. It was painted black, its metal rusting, and it probably wouldn’t pass a modern child safety inspection. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent climbing all over that old train. One day, we went to the park and the city had planted hedges around the train to keep kids off, but it didn’t work. I took it as a challenge, dug my way through those hedges, and climbed aboard. In my mind that train was a ride to adventure.

Over time, the park was overhauled, and the train disappeared. I grew up and it fell away from my memory. I joined the Air Force, moved away from Tampa, and traveled around the world. I got married, went to war, and made a family of my own.

After retiring from the Service, I eventually moved back to the Tampa Bay area, settling in Wesley Chapel. There are only a couple of main roads back and forth to Tampa; one day I found myself traveling on US 301. To my surprise, there was an old steam engine with its coal tender on the side of the road. It looked a lot like the train I played on as a kid. I thought, “That can’t be the same train. Can it?” It is yellow with red highlights. But that smokestack… and that star on the front… it looks so familiar.

Biography-brotherly-spend is one of many pictures I took while in the 2022 Breaking Barriers workshop. I don’t know for certain that it is the same train from my youth, but I think the chances are very good that it is. The city sold off most of the old vehicles that were in and around Lowry Park when it was remodeled. Biography-brotherly-spend is a location code used with the app “what3words”, yet the locations don’t have specific addresses. Regardless, the train is part of my own biography, and perhaps an object that was an aid to adventure from my childhood lives on.



James Alexander, Quibble-stadium-unravel, 2022.

James Alexander, Quibble-stadium-unravel, 2022.

James Alexander, Slipped-relaxed-spinet, 2022.

James Alexander, Slipped-relaxed-spinet, 2022.



For more information:
Email Leslie Elsasser at

Breaking Barriers is a project by USFCAM in collaboration with the USF School of Art and Art History, with Support from the USF Office of Veterans Success, Community Arts Impact Grant Program of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Love IV Lawrence 2020 Waves of Change Grant, and additional support from the ACE Arts for Community Engagement Fund and the Florida Department of State.