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Meet the 2016 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Scholarship Winners

July 13th, 2016

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Scholarship Program! The scholarship program, which was inaugurated in 2013, recognizes 3 full-time students—Canadian or international—who are entering their final year of study toward a bachelor’s degree of fine arts in photography at one of 15 participating post-secondary institutions across Canada. From a field of more than 100 applicants this year, the jury has awarded Catherine Canac-Marquis of Concordia University, Jeff Chiu of Ryerson University and Alexia-Leana Kokozaki of the University of Ottawa. The winners each receive $7,000 CDN toward tuition for their final year of undergraduate study. The field of applicants was so competitive this year that for the first time ever, the jury has decided to award an honourable mention prize of $1,000 CAD to Andi Icaza Largaespada of Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts.

This year’s jury included:

  • Adelina Vlas, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, AGO
  • Dave Jordano, 2015 Winner of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize
  • cheyanne turions, independent curator and writer

Learn more about this year’s winners below:

Catherine Canac-Marquis, Concordia University, Quebec


Catherine Canac-Marquis, Glory Fades , 2015-2016, 20” x 25”

Originally from Quebec City, Catherine Canac-Marquis studied graphic design before relocating to Reykjavik, Iceland. Now living in Montreal, she is finishing up her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in photography at Concordia University. In 2015, she received two bursaries for academic excellence. She was selected to take part in the most recent edition of the Concordia Photography Collective and her work has been presented in several group exhibitions in Montreal and Toronto.

Jeff Chiu, Ryerson University, Ontario


Jeff Chiu, Ghost Money , 2015, 24” x 35”, Archival Inkjet Print

Jeff Chiu was born in Toronto, Ontario to parents who were raised in rural China. In his images, he tries to convey the experience of diaspora and life as a second-generation immigrant. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts.

Alexia-Leana Kokozaki, University of Ottawa, Ontario


Alexia-Leana Kokozaki, Tulle, Plastic, Pebbles (And Light) , 2015, 11” x 8.5” or 22” x 17”, Digital photogram. Vellum print and matte print, Courtesy of the Artist

Alexia-Leana Kokozaki is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Ottawa. Her work in photography and installation involves re-contextualizing familiar objects and figures within unusual spaces and narratives in order to pique curiosity.

For the first time ever, the jury is pleased to award an honourable mention on the basis of demonstrated potential.

Andi Icaza Largaespada, Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts, British Columbia


Andi Icaza Largaespada, Jane, 2016, 20” x 24”, C-Print

Andi Icaza Largaespada is a multidisciplinary visual artist based in unceded Coast Salish territories. Incorporating elements of social research, ethics and sustainability into her practice, her work explores ways of belonging and resistance. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts, and was the recipient for its Canon Canada Prize in 2015 and the Tanabe/Thorne Annual Award in 2016.

The Aimia | AGO Photography Prize is Canada’s most significant photography prize, and one of the most unique arts and culture prize programs in the world. Established in 2007, the Prize was the first major art prize to allow the public to choose its winner. Each year the Prize awards $50,000 to the winner, $5,000 to each of the other shortlisted artists and $7,000 to each of the scholarship winners.

Stay tuned for the 2016 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize shortlist announcement on July 27! Follow us on our Facebook page and @AimiaAGOPrize on Twitter.

David Bowie is: open!

September 26th, 2013

David Bowie is opening night. Photo by Dean Tomlinson/Art Gallery of Ontario.

Last night we had a little celebration outside the gallery to welcome the arrival of David Bowie is, running here until Nov. 27, 2013. Energized by tunes from DJ Brittney Townson (of duo Bangs & Blush), we welcomed visitors dressed in Bowie-inspired attire, who enjoyed free admission to the exhibition, as well as media cameras and lots of onlookers who had fun with our Bowie cutouts. Thanks to all who joined us! Read the rest of this entry »

Conservation Notes: Photo-storage tips from a conservator

August 26th, 2013

By Katharine Whitman, AGO Conservator of Photographs

Photographs are often a family’s most precious objects. Whether they are of your great-great-grandfather or your daughter, they act as a record of your family for generations to come. What follows are some pointers for ensuring that your photograph collection will still be around — and in good shape — for many years.

One of Jack Chambers' photographic studies for  Lunch, part of the AGO archives. Two photos are layered, and when the one on top is pulled back, you can see the protected image and the original colour of the bottom print. The top of the print has been faded by exposure to light.

One of Jack Chambers’ photographic studies for Lunch, part of the AGO archives. Two photos are layered, and when the one on top is pulled back, you can see the protected image and the original colour of the bottom print, its upper portion faded by exposure to light.


  • Store your photographs in acid-free, PAT (Photographic Activity Tested) materials. The PAT logo should be on the packaging of the material if it has been approved.
  • Keep your photographs in areas that have controlled temperature and stable humidity, like your living room.
  • Photos on display (framed or otherwise)should be kept out of direct sunlight and behind UV-coated Plexiglass. They should also be backed with acid-free materials, not regular cardboard.
  • Photographs should only be held by the edges to keep fingerprints from forming in the image. Handle photographs with cotton gloves whenever possible, for the same reason.
  • Store your negatives in a separate place from your photographs — if something happens to your photographs, you want your negatives available to make more prints.
  • If you are shooting exclusively digital photographs, make sure you back up your collection regularly to an external drive and store that drive in a separate place from your computer.

Read the rest of this entry »

How the lost are found

June 11th, 2012

Reflections on Album: A Public Project

A guest post by Simone Wharton, Digital Content and Publishing Intern. Included throughout are pictures from inside of the albums distributed through the project, along with comments from custodians explaining why they adopted their albums.

Album 281: "Love at first sight."

Album: A Public Project by Max Dean is difficult to describe — is it performance, installation, a photography exhibition, or something completely indefinable? Salvaging albums from garage sales, paper shows, auctions and flea markets, Dean amassed more than 600 albums containing the lives of people he had never met. Some have photographs of first birthdays, family vacations, celebrations; some distinctly Canadian — deer in Banff, skating on homemade rinks, snow piles, old Toronto streets, summers in Muskoka, trips to Niagara Falls; and others contain fascinating histories from Scotland, Northern Europe or East Asia.

Dean realized that these albums were too precious for one person to hold onto. He had to find new, willing and enthusiastic custodians for these rejected, discarded or lost photo albums. Thus the FotoBug came into existence, a means to deliver these albums to photo-enthusiasts, dabbling archivists, artists and everyday Torontonians.

Album 384: "The person in the album, I believe, is a singer. She is speaking to me. I do not know why yet. But time will tell."

The most enchanting element of this month-long project has been watching and listening to people’s reactions as they peruse the albums and finally come across the one that they just cannot part with. They are an eclectic group, these unwitting custodians, and in observing them I feel there are four categories that many of them fall into.

There are the SKEPTICS who enter into the fray apprehensive and cautious. They try to be nonchalant as they browse the albums, slowly becoming more involved and absorbed as the stories unfold before their eyes. When they finally choose an album, they appear slightly incredulous of how quickly they have been transformed by this multilayered project.

The ENTHUSIASTS are very different, descending upon the FotoBug like kids in a candy store. And when they’ve found their albums, they present them like golden tickets to Max Dean, Mr. Willy Wonka himself. They depart quickly with their prize, unable to wait, wanting to delve into the treasures inside.

Album 303: "It is an album full of baby pictures and I never had a baby - but love them - so it is now 'my' baby album."

Then we have the FASTIDIOUS SELECTORS — the fascinated observers, looking carefully through each album, unable to decide, enchanted by a photo here, drawn to a cover there, but finding nothing that speaks to them… yet. They might be a little harder to please, but eventually they too fall in love with an album, and they hold on tight, before it slips through their grasp.

Last but not least, are the FATED. In these encounters it is the album that chooses the custodian, falling into their laps at just the right moment. From these people we hear heartbreaking, touching and emotional personal stories. These photographs hold dreams yet to be fulfilled, memories of distant or departed friends, mirrored lives or family members they wish they had known, days past and undetermined futures. These “fated” custodians shed new light on what we are giving people, on what these albums might represent to their new custodians and what they might have meant to their original owners.

Album 127: "This album looks just like all of the albums I used to look at of my parents when they were growing up."

This is the magic of the FotoBug. As the conversations build on Facebook, discoveries are being made, histories mapped out, original album owners are being found, the magic continues. It has been an incredible journey, and I am lucky that I was able to be a part of it.

Album 140: "It was all beat up, and alone at the bottom."