They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but did you know that your picture could be worth half-a-thousand dollars as well?
Ryerson’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education held its annual photography exhibit last week, starting on Tuesday and culminating in a public reception on Friday evening. The exhibit was hosted at the Art Square Gallery, and consisted of photographs submitted by image arts students at the Chang School.
Each entry is selected and curated by professionals in the arts community. The chosen pieces are then judged by a panel of jurors who pick the best nine to receive prizes and monetary rewards (which range from a $500 tuition credit to the opportunity to shadow a Toronto Star photographer for a day).
“The students love it – they enjoy seeing their work on the wall, inviting their friends, families, and some students sell their work,” said professor Jill Glessing, the exhibition’s organizer and coordinator. “I’m always aiming to have a high-level showing of our student work, in part, to promote and develop the Chang IMA programs.”
Glessing has been running the exhibition for the entirety of its 18-year existence. She was inspired to start the exhibition series when she realized that most photography students’ excellent work was never seen by anyone outside of their class.
“This is a way for them to see not just their own work up, in professional format, presentation and venue, but [also] see work from students in other courses as well,” Glessing explained.
One of the photographers featured this year was Chang School student Maija Palkeinen, who also volunteered her time to help with setting up the exhibition, running the official social media account, and various other significant tasks.
“This is pretty exciting for me,” said Palkeinen, whose entry titled Eastman’s Wall hangs prominently in the main hallway of the exhibit. “[My work] has never been shown anywhere. I submitted last year but didn’t make it in, which is a humbling experience in and of itself.”
Palkeinen said that the process of rejection is a necessary part of improving as an artist, as it allows you to build upon your past mistakes and achieve a tangible feeling of growth when your work eventually does make it big. She describes the judging process as nerve-racking, recalling the experience of standing in the gallery watching the judges silently analyze her work.
“I’ll be honest,” Palkeinen said, “The first time I saw my photo on that wall, it brought a tear to my eye…to be able to share something that you put so much heart and soul into is such an honour.”
Though the exhibition came to a close on Sunday, it will almost certainly run again next year to give another group of photographers the chance to have their work featured publicly.
“Every year, the gallery gets more and more beautiful,” said Art Square co-owner Selcuk Suna. “We are so happy to be working with Ryerson.”
Included below is an excerpt from the exhibition’s pamphlet, which denotes which pieces won each award at Friday’s reception.