Ryerson photography student shares her inspiration behind AGO exhibit

By Natalie Marynowski and Pema Tsering

Paige Lindsay studied science at the University of Victoria for a year, but she quickly found out science wasn’t her real love.

She took two years off school and traveled overseas. It was then she discovered her love for photography with a point-and-shoot camera.

Lindsay traveled to Tunisia to visit her mother. “While I was there, the Arab Spring happened and that was pretty intense,” said Lindsay. “But I just walked around her neighbourhood and took pictures of that.”

The Victoria, B.C. native Lindsay was at work when she received a phone call from Sean O’Neill, the project manager of the Aimia/Art Gallery of Ontario Photography Prize, informing her that she had just been awarded a $7,000 scholarship, and a chance to display her photography at the AGO.

“We didn’t know before that it would involve a show at the AGO,” revealed Lindsay. “It was an added bonus!”


Part of Paige Lindsay’s exhibit at the AGO. (Natalie Marynowski/Ryersonian)

It was those photos that led to her acceptance into the School of Image Arts.

“In first year we use all film – like 4×5 large format film – cameras, which was a whole new world for me and I really enjoyed that,” said Lindsay. “I really love that Ryerson gives the opportunity to use historical practices as well as mainstream practices that were used 30 years ago but have now changed so drastically.”

She learned about the scholarship competition through email in her third year.

“I remember talking to people about it and urging them to apply because it seemed too good to pass up,” said Lindsay.

Lindsay submitted a portfolio to Ryerson and had it judged by a panel of three arts professors, Don Snyder, Katy McCormick and Hilary Roche. Shortly afterwards, she found out she was chosen to represent the university in the competition, which included eight other Canadian universities.

One representative from each of the eight universities took part in the competition.  Lindsay, and one student each from OCAD University and the University of Manitoba, were chosen from eight applicants. Each received a scholarship for their final year of university as well as space in the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre’s Community Gallery.

Lindsay currently has two separate projects on display in the gallery, which were part of her application portfolio for the competition.

One of the two projects, Where did you come from? showcases photographs and explanations of objects she found on the streets of Toronto.

“I start producing a lot of my work when I’m walking around,” said Lindsay. “They’re all objects that I found on the ground around Toronto.”

The text portion of the photo is written from the perspective of the person who abandoned the specific object.

“One of them is an apple core that I saw in Ossington that someone had placed on a gas meter and whenever I see something like that it seems so purposeful,” said Lindsay. “The story is about someone who is on a smoke break and they’re trying to quit smoking so they’re eating apples instead.”

Lindsay’s second project Vocabulary is a collection of digital images of signs she found around Toronto and printed on postcards for anyone to take.

“I took pictures of a whole bunch of signs that had lots of words in them and edited out every word except for one,” said Lindsay. “The idea is kind of like refrigerator magnet poetry. You have all these words that you can rearrange to make new sentences and create new ideas.”

Eight images were printed on postcards with information about the project and a link to her website, which has a video that goes along with the project.

“There’s over a hundred different images that each have one word in them and using those I wrote a poem and recorded two friends of mine reading it,” said Lindsay. “As they’re speaking you see the images go along with their words in the video.”

Lindsay says response from her family and friends has been positive, having gone through all 1,000 postcards from her exhibit within the first week.

“For me it’s just really been wonderful having the experience of what’s involved in preparing a gallery show and knowing how many hours go into that,” said Lindsay. “I’m not expecting anyone to call me but it’s just given me a little bit more confidence.”

Lindsay’s work will be on display in the community gallery at the AGO until the end of January 2015.


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