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Fig. 1

Spotlight Canada: Faces That Shaped a Nation (installation view), Ryerson Image Centre exterior façade, 2017 © Ryerson Image Centre

The Ryerson Image Centre welcomes some famous faces: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and more

Apr. 24, 2017

In honour of Canada 150, the Ryerson Image Centre’s glass façade will feature a new mural of key figures who helped establish the country’s national identity through their endeavours, diversity and resilience. This historical panorama will include 14 portraits: Margaret Atwood, John Candy, Leonard Cohen, Viola Desmond, Chief Dan George, Wayne Gretzky, Yousuf Karsh, k.d. lang, Marshall McLuhan, Oscar Peterson, Mary Pickford, Buffy Sainte-Marie, David Suzuki, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

This mural, titled Spotlight Canada: Faces That Shaped a Nation, will be installed in time for the public launch party of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, this Friday, April 28, 7–11 pm at the Ryerson Image Centre. Spotlight Canada is part of CONTACT’s public installation program and just one of the 7 exhibitions and installations on view at the RIC, including an exhibition of work by 2016 Scotiabank Photography Award winner, Suzy Lake.

Arrayed across the RIC’s west and north façades, these portraits mark the arrival of a new promised gift to Ryerson University— nearly 25,000 photographs of Canadian personalities and events from the 20th century, preserved in The New York Times Photo Archive. Acquired by real estate entrepreneur Chris Bratty and donated as an act of cultural repatriation, The Rudolph P. Bratty Family Collection further establishes the RIC as an important destination for the study of press photography.

When the RIC first opened in September 2012, the building’s façade depicted important North American and European cultural icons, such as John F. Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Neil Armstrong and Marilyn Monroe. These portraits were drawn from the Black Star Collection of photojournalism, which, despite its rich representation of 20th-century history, includes few images from Canada. The recent arrival of these Canadian photographs from The New York Times Photo Archive provides an ideal opportunity to exchange the first mural for a new one—a glass vista that celebrates the primacy and eminence of our nation’s own history and culture.