Michele Pearson Clarke has been recommended to be Toronto’s second Photo Laureate, pending approval by City Council at its April 16 and 17 meeting.
Toronto is the only city in Canada with a Photo Laureate. The title honours a photographer recognized for exceptional photography and work focused on subjects relevant to Torontonians. The Photo Laureate champions photography and visual arts in the city, and uses their perspective to create a dialogue on contemporary issues.
Featured at exhibitions in Canada and the United States, Clarke works primarily through photography, film, video and installation. Using archival, performative and process-oriented strategies, she explores the personal and political possibilities afforded by considering experiences of emotions related to longing and loss.
Clarke, who is based in Toronto, holds a master of social work degree from the University of Toronto and received her master of fine arts degree from Ryerson University in 2015, when 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 Gallery 44, and she is currently a contract lecturer in the Documentary Media Studies program at Ryerson University. 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 works, visit https://www.michelepearsonclarke.com/.
Once formally appointed, Clarke will hold the position for three years and will receive an annual honorarium of $10,000 for her service to the city. As part of her duties, she will develop a legacy project in collaboration with the City.
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 conversations through her work, and their confidence that she would excel as an ambassador for the visual arts.
More information about the Toronto Photo Laureate and its programs is available at https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/history-art-culture/photo-laureate/.
“The quality and scope of her work makes Michele Pearson Clarke an ideal choice to represent Toronto as a photography and visual arts ambassador. I would like to congratulate and thank Geoffrey James, our first Photo Laureate, for his memorable exhibits at Doors Open Toronto and for his vision in shaping the Photo Laureate role over the past three years.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The artistic communities that Ms. Clarke represents will benefit greatly from her personal dynamism and passionate approach to her subjects and her work.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Councillor for Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“I am profoundly honoured to be selected to serve Torontonians as their Photo Laureate. Photography has enriched my life in countless ways, and I am eager to engage in collaboration and conversation about the powerful role that it can play in helping us understand ourselves and our remarkable city.”
– Michele Pearson Clarke
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