Please review our visitor guidelines before your visit. Subscribe to our mailing list for the latest news and events.

Skip Navigation

Chris Donovan: The Cloud Factory

May 18–June 18
Student Gallery

Against a backdrop of billowing clouds of smoke, the environmental class system of Saint John, New Brunswick comes into hazy focus in Chris Donovan’s The Cloud Factory. A long-term photographic project, The Cloud Factory stems from Donovan’s frustrations over the lack of critical reporting around the fossil fuel industry in a city that is home to Canada’s largest oil refinery. With his poignant images, the artist calls attention to the issues generated by the industrialization of his hometown, revealing the families affected by industrial contamination and the socio-economic structures of a monopolized economy.

Shot in heavily polluted areas, this series of photographs uncovers the environmental injustices perpetrated by media conglomerates and owners of the refinery, the Irving family. Donovan’s images cut through the veil of smoke to expose a culture of censorship that has allowed the oil industry to control the environmental narrative and tighten its grip on the community for decades.

Sponsored by the Student Production Award – In memory of George Fleischmann.

Artist Talk: Chris Donovan
Wednesday, May 18
12 pm ET

A featured exhibition of the DocNow Festival 2022

Part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

Black and white image of a boy holding a rifle stands in the foreground with his family behind him in front of a run down home. A man, woman and child make up his family.
Fig. 1

Chris Donovan, Boy with Gun, 2017, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist.

skateboarder moving through a cloud of vape smoke blown out of his mouth
Fig. 2

Chris Donovan, Vaping at Skatepark, 2017, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist.

dog walks across pavement in industrialized area with large piping infrastructure behind it
Fig. 3

Chris Donovan, Dog with Pipeline, 2019, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Bio

Chris Donovan

Chris Donovan is a documentary photographer based between Toronto and New Brunswick. Hailing from the industrial city of Saint John, New Brunswick, his practice focuses on the intersection of community and industry. The Cloud Factory is his graduating thesis exhibition for his MFA in the Documentary Media Program.

His work has been awarded the New Generation Photography Award for which he was featured in a group exhibition produced in partnership with the Ryerson Image Centre and the National Gallery of Canada in 2021. He has also been awarded a World Press Photo Award, the Environmental Vision Award (University of Missouri), and the Ian Parry Scholarship, and most recently, the Ryerson Image Centre Student Production Award – In memory of George Fleischmann. His photographs have appeared in group shows in more than 40 countries, and across Canada, including at the National Gallery of Canada.

Chris Donovan: The Cloud Factory

A featured exhibition of the DocNow Festival 2022

Part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival