Michele Pearson Clarke selected as Toronto’s second Photo Laureate

Toronto’s Photo Laureate is the first position of its kind in Canada. It honours a photographer recognized for exceptional photography and whose work focuses on subjects relevant to Torontonians. The Photo Laureate champions photography and visual arts in the city, and uses his/her perspective to create a dialogue on contemporary issues.

Featured widely at exhibitions in Canada and the U.S., Michele Pearson Clarke works primarily in photography, film, video and installation. Using archival, performative and process-oriented strategies, she explores the personal and political by considering experiences related to longing and loss.

Based in Toronto, Clarke holds an MSW from the University of Toronto, and received her MFA from Ryerson University where she was awarded both the Ryerson University Board of Governors Leadership Award and Medal, and the Ryerson Gold Medal for the Faculty of Communication + Design. From 2016-2017, Clarke was artist-in-residence at Toronto’s Gallery 44. She is currently a lecturer in the Documentary Media Studies program at Ryerson University, and she is a finalist for the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts 2019.

Recent exhibitions and screenings include Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art at Le Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (2018); All That is Left Unsaid at ltd los angeles (2018); Black Radical Imagination at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2016); Parade of Champions at Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto (2015); and a solo exhibition, A Welcome Weight on My Body (2018) at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Art, Toronto. Her writing has been published in Canadian Art, Transition Magazine and Momus, and in 2018, she was a speaker at the eighth TEDxPortofSpain. For more information on Clarke and her work visit her website.

Clarke will receive an annual honorarium of $10,000 for a three-year appointment. She is expected to commit a portion of her working time to duties as Toronto’s ambassador of visual and photographic culture at events that promote those arts. She will also develop a legacy project in collaboration with City staff, unique to the individual Photo Laureate.

In recommending Clarke’s appointment, the selection panel (assembled from Toronto’s photography and visual arts community) cited her many artistic accolades, the opportunity to advance important community dialogues through work, and their confidence that she would excel as an ambassador for the visual arts.