Artistic Photography at The Ryerson Image Centre

Back in May, I posted a few stories about exhibitions I’d seen, that were part of The Contact Photography Festival. I really enjoyed that month-long event, which featured artistic photography shows in galleries, large and small, located all over the city. (My previous posts on the subject are here, here, and here.)

While the actual festival ended on May 31st, there were some shows that extended beyond that. Today, I’d like to talk about a couple of those, both conveniently located in the same building, and both quite wonderful.

The venue is “The Ryerson Image Centre“, which is home to the School of Image Arts, on the campus of Ryerson University, located in the heart of Toronto, near the corner of Yonge and Dundas. (That’s a popular area that most anyone coming to Toronto would go, so, with The Image Centre being a very short walk from there, it would be the perfect place for visitors to find a quiet spot and a free injection of curated art, amoungst shopping and sight seeing.)

The artists whose works are currently on display there are Meryl McMaster and Moyra Davey. Both will be on display until August 4th, 2019.

I’ll begin with Meryl McMaster : She was worn in Ottawa in 1988 and went to Ontario College or Art and Design University. Her best-known work explores her Indigenous heritage.

I’d seen one of her photographs a couple of years ago, at the AGO, as part of the multi-artist “Every.Now.Then : Reframing Nationhood” exhibition. At the time I recall hanging back from the group I was touring the show with, in order to take a good long look at the stunning large-scale photograph. I stood there in awe, extremely impressed both by the work itself and the fact that the artist was only 28 years old at the time.

So, I was very keen to see this solo exhibition of her work, a series of self-portraits called “As Immense As The Sky“. It is stunning.

Visitors to The Ryerson Image Centre this summer, will be fortunate to see two excellent shows there, as across the large foyer, there’s another gallery space, this one hung with the works of Toronto-born, New York based, Moyra Davey.

This special exhibition celebrates Moyra Davey and her lifelong work, as winner of the “2018 Scotiabank Photography Award” — Scotiabank sponsors the annual “Contact Photography Festival”, and Moyra won their prestigious prize last year.

I was with my friend Meghan, who is a big-time fan of independent film. So, she was very pleased to see that a significant component of the show is devoted to a series of films that Moyra has made, mainly showing the artist walking around in her New York apartment, reading her memoirs aloud. This might not sound like the most interesting thing to watch on film, but I assure you, it was. The fact that we both gladly spent over an hour and a half, seated on a very comfortable sofa in a darkened room, watching, is testament to that.

↑ There were what looked to be a couple of hundred of these on the walls : They’re Moyra Davey’s photographs, that were printed onto thick paper, folded in a certain way with the photo facing outward, taped shut, had postage added, and mailed (without envelopes) to locations all around the world. I looked up one of the recipients, and they do exist.

What viewers see is the pieces, pinned to the walls, after they were mailed, cut open and unfolded. There must have been some agreement that everyone open the mailing the same way, by carefully cutting the tape, and then returning them to the artist. The work, which is part photography, part sculpture and part performance art, is quite remarkable and very interesting, in deed.

The shows at “The Ryerson Image Centre” are free. There is also a smaller room there, which exhibits a rotating roster of student works.

I’ll close with a few shots I took outside around the venue.

Ryerson holds an important place in my heart, as my older brother went there, and I lived in their student housing for two summers, when back in Toronto between university years at Queen’s in Kingston. Also, my man Nick is a Ryerson grad, twice. In fact, the-love-of-my-life and I first met on a blind date, set up by one of his Ryerson classmates, who I had met at work. So, you could say that Ryerson holds a key to my life’s happiness!

↑ The Image Centre is on the left. During the winter, this square is an outdoor skating rink. ↑

↑ The walkways are currently being refurbished, so there were guardrails up when I was there. ↑

Thanks for checking out my blog. xo loulou

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