Ryerson University issued the following announcement on May 7.
“We can’t be what we can’t see,” said Michèle Pearson Clarke, who will explore issues of representation, and other themes, in her new role as Toronto’s Photo Laureate. Photo: Zahra Siddiqui.
“Don’t you have to be 70 to be a laureate?” This is how Michèle Pearson Clarke’s father jokingly reacted to her news that she’d been named official Photo Laureate, external link by the City of Toronto.
“And I thought, yes, it’s true,” Clarke, 46, said, laughing. “We are more familiar with a poet laureate – but I think one of the differences between being a poet laureate and a photo laureate is that very few people write poetry, but we all take photographs.”
We do take photographs, however, Clarke’s images have been celebrated in exhibitions and festivals around the world, and have garnered her a Ryerson Gold Medal from the Faculty of Communication and Design and the Board of Governors Leadership Award and Medal (both received upon her graduation from the Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media program in 2015), among other accolades.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be selected by a committee that was made up of a group of people whose work I admire. It feels like both a recognition of what I have contributed so far but also an investment in me as an artist,” said Clarke. “I think it’s very progressive of the city to create a position to engage Torontonians in thinking about the role of photographs and visual imagery.”
Toronto is the only city in Canada with a photo laureate and Clarke is only the second artist to hold the position – the first being former Ryerson professor Geoffrey James. The three-year appointment honours a photographer recognized for exceptional photography whose work focuses on subjects relevant to Torontonians.
Original source: https://www.ryerson.ca/news-events/news/2019/05/ryerson-professor-named-toronto-photo-laureate/