Reflection at Gallery 44

Devonne Harbin, Untitled

A security camera, words scratched in sand, curving chrome chairs, a pair of roses, high school lockers. All of these objects are brought together in OUTREACH 2012 – Reflection, a powerful exhibition of black and white photographs by youth from five different community organizations on display at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography until July 28.

I spoke with soJin Chun, Head of Education at Gallery 44 and Devonne Harbin, a York University student and one of the participating artists from NIA Centre of the Arts about this year’s show.

Showing me her carefully composed photo of a window washer, Devonne explains “Really, it’s all about reflection.” Indeed, each photograph presents a different approach to the show’s central theme. From streetscapes to introspective portraits, Reflection showcases diverse artistic visions.

Raven Flynn

For soJin, film photography creates an opportunity for reflection. She explains that, in contrast to “our immediate culture, where we need instant gratification,” the tangibility of film photography encourages artists to frame each image and the development process rewards patience and precision. In fact, soJin believes that “being in the darkroom creates a community environment.” She describes developing film as “magical” and refreshingly “tactile” in a world where point and shoot digital photography is the norm. Devonne adds that, using the camera for artistic and individual expression at Gallery 44, she “rediscovered” photography after her initial exposure to the medium during high school.

Although OUTREACH is rooted in the tradition of film photography promoted by Gallery 44, the program is about more than image making. soJin confirms that the goal is to “push youth to think conceptually, think critically.” For each artist, the challenge is: “How can you make images that say something?”

In addition to conceiving, producing and exhibiting the show, a smaller group of youth also created an e-zine that integrates film photography with digital media. For Devonne, creating the e-zine was an opportunity to collaborate with youth from other community organizations and share ideas in a supportive setting. The Reflection e-zine presents photos from the exhibition as well as additional images and written reflections by the artists.

Visit OUTREACH 2012 – Reflection at G44’s Members’ Gallery at 401 Richmond until July 28.

Check out Reflection e-zine online.

Shawnee McComb

Participating Organizations

Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography is a non-profit artist-run centre committed to the advancement of photographic art through education, exhibition, production and publication. The centre is supported by its members and patrons, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.

519 Church St. Community Centre is the hub of community life in Toronto’s diverse Church and Wellesley Village. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, two-spirited and queer (LGBTTQ) communities and our allies and friends have always found a welcoming place at The 519.

Eva’s Phoenix is a transitional housing and training facility, which formally opened in June 2000. This organization provides housing for 50 youth, aged 16-24 years, for up to a full year, and since 2002 has also allowed up to 160 youth each year, aged 16-29 years, to participate in its employment and pre-apprenticeship programs.

Harmony Movement was founded in 1994 as a not-for-profit charitable organization to combat interracial intolerance and to confront the “us versus them” attitude which was prevalent in Canadian society at the time. Its mandate is to promote diversity, bring awareness to and challenge all forms of discrimination that act as social and cultural barriers to individuals’ full participation in Canadian Society.

Native Learning Centre is a partnership with the Toronto District School Board. This program allows students to work at their own pace with one-on-one instruction, in a non-competitive environment.

NIA Centre for the Arts: NIA is a word of Kiswahili origins meaning purpose. In Arabic niyyah means intent, it is a way to judge someone’s actions. Our use of the word Nia represents our desire to support young people in finding their purpose. Nia Centre for the Arts is a community space focused on supporting the holistic advancement of Afro-Diasporic young people.

Emily Macrae is the Neighbourhood Arts Network Summer Intern

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