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Indigenous woman with veiled beaded headdress and cape walks forward, carrying a multi-colourred staff with her arm outstretched, leaving a trail of Indigenous artifacts trailing on the floor behind her

Dana Claxton, Cultural Belongings, 2015, LED firebox with transmounted lightjet duratrans. Courtesy of the artist. Collection of Eira Thomas

Ryerson Image Centre announces fall exhibitions, outdoor art, and public programs

Sep. 8, 2021

Survey of work by Hunkpapa Lakota artist Dana Claxton in the Main Gallery explores Indigenous heritage and contemporary culture, plus four other exhibitions by Canadian photographers. 

Public art installations to be shown outside the gallery on Ryerson University campus. 

Media previews by appointment: September 13 & 14

TORONTO, September 8, 2021— Today, Ryerson Image Centre announces a dynamic  fall season of exhibitions, outdoor art, and online programs. The upcoming RIC exhibitions, presented in conjunction with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, feature works by artists Dana Claxton, Susan Dobson, Emmanuelle Léonard, and Rana Nazzal Hamadeh, and are scheduled to open September 15, 2021. 

Our collective health and safety is the foremost priority and the RIC will strictly adhere to all public health regulations. Please visit our website for the most current information on our COVID-19 guidelines.

“We’re so pleased to open our galleries once again after a long closure,” says Paul Roth, RIC Director. “The RIC team has worked hard to create a safe and welcoming gallery environment so our guests can experience these remarkable exhibitions by renowned and emerging Canadian artists, along with a number of free online events for our community.” 

Scotiabank Photography Award: Dana Claxton, on view in the Main Gallery, celebrates the career of Vancouver-based artist Dana Claxton, winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Photography Award. A Hunkpapa Lakota photographer and filmmaker, Claxton examines stereotypes and representations of Indigenous peoples in popular culture. The exhibition showcases artworks—both in colour and black and white—that confront issues of colonialist appropriation and commodification through a wide-ranging exploration of the artist’s family and community in the Great Plains, Saskatchewan. Visitors can expect to see several previously unreleased images drawn from the artist’s archives as well as novel displays, including large-scale prints on vinyl and Claxton’s signature “fireboxes” (or lightboxes). Claxton will give a free virtual artist talk on September 22, 7 pm. Scotiabank Photography Award: Dana Claxton is curated by RIC Exhibitions Curator Gaëlle Morel, presented by Scotiabank and organized by the Ryerson Image Centre at Ryerson University. 

“This exhibition offers a glimpse into Claxton's identity as both an Indigenous woman and an artist by highlighting the landscapes, people, and cultural objects connected to her background,” says Morel. “We collaborated with Claxton to determine how best to showcase each work or series, often in unexpected ways, and we are especially excited to share a number of her never-before-seen photographs.”

The University Gallery will feature Slide / Lecture by Guelph-based photographer Susan Dobson. In the exhibition, the artist reconsiders the materiality, physicality, and meaning of abandoned university slide libraries, originally used in art history lectures. Her precisely composed images of these outdated photographic transparencies expose the dominance of Western male artists in traditional visual culture, while hinting a way forward toward more diverse and inclusive representations. Dobson will give a free online artist talk on November 3, 7 pm.

Montreal-based artist Emmanuelle Léonard’s two-channel video Deployment will be shown on the Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall, accompanied by two photographic portraits. Filmed during a 2018 residency, Deployment focuses on the passage of time experienced by soldiers posted to the Canadian Arctic, a place where the climate crisis has intensified the national, political, and economic stakes. Léonard and guest curator Louise Déry will come together for an online conversation on November 10, 7 pm. 

In 1/1000th of a Dunam, on view in the Student Gallery until October 23, Rana Nazzal Hamadeh employs photography, video, and installation to explore Palestinian assertions of belonging through the site of soil—an epistemic space where land and belonging are imagined. Hamadeh will be in conversation with Dr. Chandni Desai, Assistant Professor in the Critical Studies of Equity and Solidarity at the University of Toronto, on October 20, 1 pm.

Hal Wilsdon’s I would die for Johnny Knoxville and I would shoot Chris Burden will go on display in the Student Gallery, from November 3–December 4. In this photographic series, Wilsdon performs physical feats for the camera with equal parts irreverence and homage to the 1970s performance works of Chris Burden and the ridiculous stunts performed by actor Johnny Knoxville in his reality TV show Jackass.  

The health of the community remains the RIC’s top priority and a number of changes have been made to gallery operations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors. Guests are encouraged to check the RIC website for the most current information on exhibition dates and COVID-19 guidelines. 

Scotiabank Photography Award: Dana Claxton, Slide / Lecture, and Deployment are Core Exhibitions of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. 

In addition, two exciting public art initiatives are also continuing through November 14, near the Ryerson Image Centre on the university’s campus. Maximum Exposure 2021 is Ryerson University’s annual showcase of multidisciplinary work produced by emerging Canadian and international artists studying photography, film, and integrated digital media in the School of Image Arts. This year, an outdoor display featuring a selection of photographic work  is mounted along the facade of the Image Arts Building on campus, facing Bond Street at the corner of Gould Street. 

The New Generation Photography Award recognizes outstanding photographic work by emerging Canadian lens-based artists, age 35 and under. This outdoor exhibition, organized by the National Gallery of Canada in partnership with Scotiabank, the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, the RIC and Ryerson University, features the winners from 2020: Noah Friebel (Vancouver), Curtiss Randolph (Toronto), and Katherine Takpannie (Ottawa); and from 2021: Dustin Brons (Vancouver), Chris Donovan (Toronto-Saint John), and Dainesha Nugent-Palache (Toronto). A testament to photography’s broad expressive capacity, this selection of artists represents the forefront of new lens-based practices in Canada.  This free public exhibition will be on view until November 14 along Gould Street on the Ryerson campus, mounted on the exterior of the RIC and surrounding buildings east and west of the centre.

A schedule of this season’s online public programming is available via

The Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) exists for the research, teaching and exhibition of photography and related media. We are an active partner within the academic fabric of Ryerson University, the cultural network of greater Toronto, and the national and international artistic community. We develop rigorous yet inclusive programs for students, faculty, artists, researchers and curators, as well as the general public. The RIC boasts three interrelated areas of activity. Our exhibition program addresses topics of social, cultural, aesthetic and historical concern from a variety of contemporary perspectives. Our Peter Higdon Research Centre conducts and facilitates inquiry into primary resource materials and offers workshops, lectures, symposia and publication programs. Finally, we maintain a collection of photography spanning the medium’s history, as well as several artist and journalism archives—including the renowned Black Star Collection of twentieth-century photoreportage. For more information, visit, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. 

Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 41,500 students, including 2,400 master's and PhD students, 3,200 faculty and staff, and nearly 170,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past five years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit

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Media Contact:  
Feven Tesfamariam, Ryerson Image Centre