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TORONTO - The University of Toronto Art Centre is pleased to present The Shelley Peterson Student Art Exhibition. The show features outstanding undergraduate work from the University of Toronto St George, Mississauga and Scarborough campuses Visual Studies programs. The exhibition is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President & Provost and is named in honour of Shelley Peterson who showed unwavering support for students and the university's arts initiatives during the Honourable David Peterson's tenure as University Chancellor.

Curated by Master of Museum Studies students, Katie Funfgeld, Ellen Hlozan, Katherine Laite, Nicole Matityahu and Kate Tyka, the exhibition features 36 works by 31 student artists practicing painting, etching, sculpture, photography, installation and sound art. The exhibition represents the breadth of the Visual Studies programs through the spectrum of media explored by the artists.

Breanna Shanahan's Untitled, 5 Chairs (2013) is an installation of custom made anthropomorphized chairs, that articulate the support and burden of family interactions. Whitewashed (2013) by Dorica Manuel is a series of bleached photographs from the artists childhood. This work reflects the struggle the artist has with her cultural identity as a Filipino-Canadian. What's that Sound? (2013), by Dhanisha Mistry probes the physical limitations of illness through the experience of sound - and Mengfan Sha’s photograph series Illusions (2013) manipulates the effects of light on the camera by enhancing the illusionary quality of lighting.

The artists selected are interpreters of contemporary culture and flesh out concepts of experience and perception, through the lens of their artistic practices. Art is a means of understanding the world around us both physically, intellectually, and emotionally, as a form of expression and communication.  Common themes running through the body of work selected include identity, family and sensory perception, through artistic technique and media.


Wednesday 9 April 2014,  7-9 pm

Panel discussion featuring faculty from the University of Toronto St George, Mississauga and Scarborough campuses Visual Studies programs, paired with student artists. Panelists will discuss artists’ practices and the Visual Studies programs.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President & Provost with generous support from the Valerie Jean Griffiths Student Exhibitions Fund in Memory of William, Elva and Elizabeth, and UTAC's Supporting Sponsor Manulife Financial.

Image: Sonya Filman, Good Conscience, intaglio print, 2013.



TORONTO – The University of Toronto is home to the world’s largest collection of photographs by the late beat poet Allen Ginsberg thanks to a donation by the Larry & Cookie Rossy Family Foundation.

The 7,686 photographs housed in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and 236 silver gelatin prints at the University of Toronto Art Centre include portraits of figures as prominent as John Cage, Bob Dylan, William de Kooning, Paul McCartney and Iggy Pop. 

Comprising a nearly complete archive of Ginsberg’s surviving photographs, the collection, spanning the years 1944 to 1997, includes original snapshots and prints of various sizes. The silver gelatin prints are unique in that they are hand-captioned by Ginsberg. All of these images will be available to scholars and some will be on display.

“This is an exciting and remarkable gift,” says U of T President Meric Gertler. “It builds on U of T’s strength as one of the world’s greatest research resources, and our global stature in the humanities. We are very grateful to the Larry & Cookie Rossy Family Foundation for entrusting us with this truly fascinating collection.”

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was an American poet and nonconformist whose influence extended far beyond the United States. Along with his friends Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Gregory Corso, Ginsberg was at the centre of a network of writers and artists dubbed the Beat Generation. In the 1950s and 1960s their work and their personal example would forever alter the cultural scene. The Beats also influenced postmodern and avant-garde Canadian poetry. 

Although known primarily as a writer, Ginsberg was an avid photographer. The collection includes images of writers Amiri Baraka (formerly known as LeRoi Jones), Paul Bowles, Doris Lessing, Josef Skvorecky (who was a professor of English at U of T) and Evgeny Yevtushenko. Other Ginsberg subjects were photographer Robert Frank, psychologist R.D. Laing, author and activist Dr. Benjamin Spock and psychologist and drug guru Timothy Leary. Ginsberg’s friend and fellow writer Burroughs appears in more than 300 photographs. Another frequent subject is Ginsberg’s lifelong partner, Peter Orlovsky.

The Ginsberg prints provide visual insight into New York’s urban landscape from the 1950s to the 1990s. They also document Ginsberg’s international travels to Canada, France, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, the USSR and many other nations.

“This constitutes the ultimate ‘insider’ group of photographs on the Beats,” says Anne Dondertman, Associate Librarian for Special Collections, University of Toronto Libraries. “It contains important research material for the study of the life, family, work, travels and friendships of Allen Ginsberg from the 1940s to the 1990s,”

“This fabulous collection provides both scholars and students unique entrée to Ginsberg’s passionate eye and helps to confirm his status as a major 20th-century American poet with the camera,” adds Louis Kaplan, Professor of History and Theory of Photography and New Media, Graduate Department of Art. “One cannot overestimate its photo-historical, pedagogical and cultural value.”

Many of the prints have been digitized and are available via the Fisher Library’s Flickr site and the UTAC Collections Online portal which can be accessed from the University of Toronto Art Centre’s homepage.This fall UTAC, in collaboration with the Fisher Library, will present an exhibition of the Ginsberg photographs.

The University of Toronto Libraries system is the largest academic library in Canada and is ranked third among peer institutions in North America, behind Harvard and Yale. The system consists of 44 libraries located on three university campuses. Its Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library houses the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections including books, manuscripts and other materials, and is the largest rare book library in the country. For more information about the Fisher Library’s collections, visit

The University of Toronto Art Centre is the third largest fine art gallery in Toronto, and home to three collections comprising more than 6,000 objects. Collection highlights include works by European Old Masters and the early 20th-century avant-garde as well as the Group of Seven, and Modern and Contemporary Canadian artists.

The Montreal-based Larry & Cookie Rossy Family Foundation was established by Larry Rossy, founder and CEO of Dollarama Inc.

Boundless: The Campaign for the University of Toronto is the most ambitious fundraising initiative ever undertaken by a Canadian university. Meeting global challenges and preparing global citizens are the twin pillars of the campaign, which will support the exploration of new frontiers and the limitless possibilities of human experience. This gift will provide students and faculty alike with a new opportunity to explore human expression and social progress. Boundless has surpassed the milestone of $1.35 billion, more than two-thirds of the goal of $2 billion.

Captions: Allen Ginsberg, Henry Schlacter, Al Sublette, and Peter Orlovsky in Fosters Cafeteria, San Francisco, 1955, black/white silver gelatin print with ink.

Allen Ginsberg, Peter Du Peru, Neal Cassady & Natalie Jackson, San Francisco, 1955, black/white silver gelatin print with ink.

For more information, please contact:

Anne Dondertman | Associate Librarian, Special Collections | University of Toronto Libraries | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | 416-978-5332
Maureen Smith | University of Toronto Art Centre | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | 416-946-7089



TORONTO – The University of Toronto Art Centre is excited to announce the acquisition of a multi-year gift of 53 works of the famed American photographer, Robert Giard (1940-2002) donated by Jonathan Silin, Robert Giard’s partner of thirty years.

Giard first picked up a camera in 1972 and began photographing landscapes, portraits of friends, and the nude figure. By 1985, his passion for photography evolved into the creation of an extensive archive of American and Canadian gay and lesbian literary figures, both iconic and emerging: an ambitious project to celebrate queer histories and literature in the wake of the AIDS crisis. Giard’s portraits have been described as a “transaction between the photographer and the writer.” Often captured in casual surroundings, the portraits are disarming in their unadorned, straightforward style.

Between 1985 and his death in 2002, Giard took nearly 600 black and white portraits of literary figures including the Canadians: Beth Brant, Richard Labonté, Nicole Brossard, Michael Lynch, and Daryl Hine. These five works -- which were part of Jonathan Silin’s original 2010 donation of eight photographs -- were included in UTAC’s 2012  Just As You Are: Portraits by Robert Giard an exhibition supported in part by the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

“I believe it’s especially important that the Canadian authors included in Giard’s archive now have a home in Canada and in a university that celebrates Canadian literature. Students and researchers at SDS will now have opportunities to see and work with the collection as part of their ongoing commitment to studying and exploring issues of identity, sexuality, and community and how they relate to questions of documentation, representation and aesthetics,” says SDS Associate Director Scott Rayter.

“The University of Toronto Art Centre is exceptionally fortunate to be able to share this collection and the legacy it represents with students, faculty and the public, through special research projects, exhibitions, and rotating displays,” adds UTAC Interim Director Barbara Fischer.

The University of Toronto has also recently acquired the nearly complete archive of Allen Ginsberg’s surviving photographs. Together the two archives – Giard and Ginsberg -- capture an extraordinary cultural history from the 1940s to the beginning of the 21st century.

The entire Giard archive is available at the UTAC Collections Online portal that can be accessed from the University of Toronto Art Centre’s homepage. You can also view a tour of the exhibition Just As You Are: Portraits by Robert Giard by following the Watch link on the UTAC website, and a video document of the panel discussion, Through the Lens of Psychoanalysis: The Photographic Portraiture of Robert Giard . 

Caption: Robert Giard, Beth Brant, 1990, gelatin silver print, printed 1992.

For more information, please contact:

Maureen Smith | University of Toronto Art Centre | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | 416-946-7089