Visiting the Philosopher’s Garden

I feel like I don’t get out to see enough culture. Here I am, living in Ontario’s – nay, Canada’s – cultural capital and feeling a little bit lost when it comes to galleries that will represent me.

I went to the Ryerson gallery (located at 80 Spadina avenue) for the second time the other day. It’s a bit complicated to find because of the lack of numbers on the buildings, but somewhere in the along Spadina, past Queen West, is a big old brownstone complex that fortunately has helpful signage: the numbers “80” are about as big as my head.

That night I was there to talk to Katy McCormick, who was displaying her latest exhibit of photography. McCormick’s a teacher in the photography undergraduate program here at Ryerson, and it was almost a bit surreal to see someone actually doing what they taught (just a little humour, professors who might be reading this. I assure you). Her exhibit, titled “The Philosopher’s Garden” was based on her travels to two different gardens in France and the UK, each bringing images of a mysterious nature. The images of pagodas and castle ruins had a magical property; I could feel myself drifting out of the moment, wondering what secrets those locations held.

Anyways, time to snap out of that.

McCormick’s advice for students who are looking to get involved with the gallery was simple: “There’s a submission process. We just had a submission process for the holiday show, where we ask people to submit photographs to a contest; it’s called “Give Us Your Best Shot.” However, we have submissions in March where we ask people to propose [exhibition]. There’s also the idea of going into a cafe and saying ‘Hey, these are my photographs; would you ever consider displaying them?’”

“We don’t do things in isolation. Even if we think a photograph means a specific thing to us, it may mean other things to other people. I try to get students to think about what those other things might be.”