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Meet the 30+ Artists of ‘Format Walls’

The incredible stories behind the work being exhibited at Format’s first-ever gallery show.

On display from September 27—30 at Toronto’s Unlovable Gallery, Format Walls is the first-ever gallery show curated by Format. We reached out to 35 artists who use Format for their online portfolios to feature work around the theme of keepsakes and memories. The type of work we put on our walls. The final result is a collage-inspired exhibition that’s densely packed with photography, illustration, painting, and zines.

We also wanted to share more inside information about the work being shown at Format Walls. Each artist told us what inspired their selected piece of work and why it stands out from the other work they’ve made. From Gabby Frank’s exploration of loss by photographing her father’s belongings, to 35mm prints from Katie Sadie’s American road trip, and Melissa Renwick’s meditative documentation of a Canadian island, there are a host of interesting stories behind the works in this exhibition. You’ll find some previews of the work to be shown here as well.

Format Walls runs from September 27-30, with an opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m on the 27th. The show is taking place at Unlovable Gallery, 1415 Dundas Street West, Toronto. The opening is free to attend, RSVP on Facebook. Drinks will be provided by Beau’s.

Alex Wallbaum and Aleia Murawski

Alex Wallbaum and Aleia Murawski are collaborators based out of Chicago. They are both graduates from the University of Illinois where they each studied Art and Design (Alex in Photography and Aleia in Painting). Aleia + Alex focus on still life studio photography, but also work in video, portraiture, and sculpture. Their still life images are composed of everyday found objects and situations; both banal and surreal, familiar and dissonant. In the last year, Alex + Aleia have shown work at Soft Center in Chicago, Fuck Reality in New York, The New Age Center in Tokyo, and at Nous Tous Gallery in Los Angeles.

About their Format Walls work:

For Abduction [pictured right] we wanted a basement video game binge vibe with a nostalgic 90s edge. And I think at the time we were both watching a lot of X-Files, which absolutely inspired this photo! We bought dry ice and McDonalds, and the rest of the objects were things we already had at the studio. A blue backlight was used to give it an eerie alien feel.”

See Alex Wallbaum and Aleia Murawski on Format Magazine.
alexwallbaum.com

Alison Postma

Alison Postma is an artist living and working in Toronto. She works mainly in photography, sculpture, and video. Her practice focuses on the relationships between these media and the way they represent space.

About their Format Walls work:

Until Something Else Happens is an ongoing series of works that take inspiration from doctor’s office waiting rooms. This image in particular takes the colors and textures of the waiting room as well as the narrative that leads up to you being there, and condenses it into a still life.”

alisonpostma.ca

Andrew Watch

Andrew Watch’s paintings and works on paper showcase overlapping variants of color, shape, and texture which allude to a disorienting yet palpable reduction of the world around him. Andrew is a recent graduate of OCAD University, where he was awarded the 2017 Illustration Medal for his achievements in the program. His work has also been recognized and exhibited by American Illustration, Applied Arts, Society of Illustrators, 3x3, and Creative Quarterly. Andrew currently lives and works out of Toronto.

About their Format Walls work:

“Euthanasia and eudaimonia: the philosophy that in order to maintain eudaimonia one should be able to end their life instead of having to suffer. This piece sets out to question the duality surrounding this philosophy while maintaining an unbiased stance.”

andrewwatch.com

Angela Lewis

Angela Lewis is an editorial, portrait and fashion photographer living in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The London Telegraph, Vice, Fader, and more. She is also a member of the all-women’s photo collective, SOFIA, Society of Females in Art, which encourages and challenges one another to support women’s voices in the photographic realm.

About their Format Walls work:

“This photojournalistic project began two years ago with the exploration of the lives of two sisters: Breanna, age 18, and Mena, age 10. Initially, my intent was to investigate the relationship between the two of them and, based on my childhood sensibility, I predicted these subjects would quickly lead me into some bad sibling behaviour. Along with displays of support and comfort, I had anticipated to witness complex traits like tension and competition. Instead, I noticed that Mena’s interactions with Breanna—sometimes in the form of mimicry—had a significant impact on the younger sister’s developmental behaviour.

"Through this journey, I began to find myself in the sisters, and realized that each of them represents key aspects of my own nature: the struggle between the will to be free; and the need for reassurance. When circumstances force us to choose freedom over security, the result is growth and self-discovery.”

angelalewis.com

Ben Giles

Ben Giles is an artist currently working in Norwich, UK. He studied Fine Art at Kingston University. The main mediums in his work are collage, sculpture, and installation. Color, pattern, television, film, found materials, collaboration, juxtaposition, excitement, and music are all components and influences of his practice.

About their Format Walls work:

“This particular work was from a large body of collages that I hoped all existed within the same universe or timeline. With this work I wanted to create a feeling of both otherworldly escapism and nostalgic contemplation. Even though it brushes with science fiction, I wanted it to be relatable—dreams of adventure and better places and a timelessness wanderlust. It’s neither future nor past; it’s a feeling that most of us experience.”

See Ben Giles’s work on Format Magazine.
benlewisgiles.format.com

Brittany Carmichael

Brittany Carmichael (b.1988) is a photographer living in Toronto, ON. She holds a MFA from School of Visual Arts in Photography, Video and Related Media. Carmichael has exhibited throughout Canada and the United States, notably in New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto and Montreal. She has published photo essays and portraits for New York Magazine’s The Cut, Vice, Toronto Life, Torontoist, Format Magazine and Studio Beat.

About their Format Walls work:

“My photographic work examines the relationship between the place one comes from and how it shapes who we become. The two photographs presented at Format Walls are fragments from my photo diary from a recent trip to Powell River, British Columbia. Powell River is the place where my paternal family immigrated to, and it has been a continuous setting throughout my work since 2010.”

See Brittany Carmichael’s work on Format Magazine.
brittanycarmichael.com

Clea Christakos-Gee

Clea Christakos-Gee is a Toronto-based artist currently completing her BFA in Photography Studies at Ryerson University. Her work is focused on portraiture and often considers the representation of gender, the body, and personal memory. She values the physical materiality and permanence of analog photography and the camera as a tool for tracing time and memory. Clea also works with mixed-media and incorporates collage in her image-making.

About their Format Walls work:

“My series Outbloomed documents the roses that blossomed, wilted, drooped, and survived through the mild winter in Toronto, 2016.”

cleachristakosgee.com

Cole Burston

Cole Burston is a photojournalist working with newspapers, magazines, and wire services to provide visual news coverage. He is finally based back home in Toronto after working for newspapers in New Brunswick and freelancing in Ottawa over the past seven years. He is a member of Rogue Collective, a group of like-minded photojournalists who have connected to support and big each other up in a constantly changing and rapidly dwindling industry.

About their Format Walls work:

“The goal every time I pick up my camera is to tell the story and make pretty pictures. If I can somehow hit that sweet spot where a pretty picture tells the story, I’m a happy photographer. I chose photos with a calming mood. They are quiet moments captured amongst what are often chaotic stories and give me that moment to breathe deep and help me reflect on what I’m photographing.”

coleburston.com

Dean Fleischer-Camp

Dean Fleischer-Camp is an LA-based writer, director, editor, and New York Times bestselling children’s book author whose films have screened at festivals all over the world. His first feature film, Fraud, premiered last year at HotDocs, where it spurred controversy and received widespread critical acclaim. He was previously named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and is currently directing a feature-length adaptation of his popular web series, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

About their Format Walls work:

“I was directing a TV pilot and one of the prop rental houses we were working with had a ‘wall art’ section with all of these very generic bedroom posters. Set decorations are mostly designed to be unremarkable, to kind of recede into the periphery, but posters are essentially advertisements, the total opposite. They’re meant to be loud and draw your attention, usually to a specific brand name, which movies also cannot show. So the idea of designing a ‘background’ poster, an advertisement for nothing, is such an absurd and funny contradiction. It really appealed to me. ”

deanfleischercamp.format.com
Read our interview with Dean Fleischer-Camp.

Esther Faciane

Esther Faciane is a 22-year-old self-taught freelance photographer. She has had her work featured on Racked.com and is the store photographer for the Saint Heron Shop. Being from New Orleans, Esther’s main focuses are incorporating color and New Orleans culture into her photography. She recently relocated to NYC where she will continue creating mood-filled and conceptual portraits.

finesseda.world

Gabby Frank

Gabby Frank is a lens-based artist in Toronto, Canada who specializes in both digital and analog photography. With a subtle blend of experimental and documentary approaches, Gabby creates work using various techniques of representation to explore issues of identity and loss, presence and absence, and memory. The imagery directly responds to her surrounding environments as she incorporates history and nostalgic experiences to her concepts. The relationship with her family has been a large influence to her work as Gabby enjoys incorporating family photographs, objects, and narratives.

About their Format Walls work:

“‘Mourning never ends. Only as time goes on, it erupts less frequently.’ - John Bowlby (1969). Their Things is a series of images that explore memory and loss through the placement of personally significant items. These items are collected and individually placed within domestic spaces that are often associated with a specific personal experience or event that is relevant to the object’s underlying story.

"My investigation into these objects began when exploring my father’s belongings. After his death in 2000, when I was six years old, I came to discover that his possessions became a portal to the past that allowed me to piece together his identity. Through this examination, I positioned old family photographs and objects within their respective spaces as not only a way to reflect on the past, but also to rebuild new memories of the items and spaces. Their Things becomes an emotional metaphor for going back in time and essentially forms a closure with loss.”

gabbyfrank.com

Gemma Warren

Gemma Warren is a Toronto-based commercial photographer, director, and artist. Working primarily with film photography, she has exhibited her work globally and won awards from the Canada Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council as well as recognition from the Magenta Foundation for Photography. Her directorial work has been supported through Canada’s MuchFact awards and has been published exclusively with Nylon Magazine, Noisey, and Billboard. Her most recent work was selected to screen at the Cannes Shorts Film Festival and selected as a finalist in this year’s LA Music Video Awards.

About their Format Walls work:

“The work selected for this show is part of my ongoing practice as a photographer where moments are captured from the way I see them and wish to hold them in time.”

gemmawarren.com

Hayley Morris

Hayley Morris is an Australian designer and artist.

About their Format Walls work:

Birds of Paradise is a 24-page risograph-printed zine published June 2017 by Boogie Down Press.

flosskees.com

Ian Brown

Ian Brown is an award-winning photographer whose work focuses on the human condition. His work is rooted in documentary and portrait-based projects. His work has been published and exhibited internationally. He lives in Toronto.

About their Format Walls work:

“The two images included in Format Walls are from some recent time spent in remote Nevada. I’ve been working on a long-term immersive portrait project on Americans, and as a result often find myself going far off the beaten path to meet and photograph people. Most of my corresponding landscape work tends to be in these ‘in-between’ places that are so prevalent in rural America.”

Read our interview with Ian Brown.
ianbrownphotography.com

Joshua Vettivelu

Joshua Vettivelu is an artist working within sculpture, video, performance, and installation. Their work seeks to explore how larger frameworks of power impact and manifest within intimate personal relationships. Recently, their practice has been looking at the relationship of labour and consumption that occurs when personal experiences are mined for the production of art. Vettivelu currently teaches at OCAD University within the faculty of Continuing Education, and is the Director of Programming at Whippersnapper Gallery.

About their Format Walls work:

“This piece was kind of building off a previous body of work called Cut Drawings, which were a series of drawings made by cutting into paper, so that it would look like a blank image unless it was backlit. For the mirror piece, the viewer’s own image is implicated by the etched surface of the mirror. In both pieces the viewer’s proximity to the surface changes the visibility of the body depicted. I’m interested in depicting the body this way because I’m trying to locate sites where the ego and the sacred come into contact with each other.”

joshuavettivelu.com

Julia Macerola

Julia Macerola is a graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design and is currently based in Toronto, Ontario. Her work tends to focus on people and their cultures’s relationships with people within and out of it.

About their Format Walls work:

“In this series, I followed a young suburban girl named Venesa throughout her love, work, and family life. I curated these images from the series based on the interest of body language. This series was shot over a three year period and on medium format film.”

vividfridays.com

Kailee Mandel

Kailee Mandel is a Toronto-based freelance photographer, content creator, and animal lover. Her studies and professional experience have allowed her to develop a proficiency for multiple styles of photography, primarily working in editorial, food, portraiture, and nature. She strives to create work that appeals to large audiences and is engaging, captivating, and unique.

About their Format Walls work:

“I like to photograph people who are interesting to me. It could be a friend or a family member who I have a connection with, or a complete stranger. I want my portraits to give a hint of the personalities of my subjects, and reveal something about them. I hope people can connect with my portraits as much as I connect with my subjects.”

kaileemandel.com

Katie Sadie

Katie Sadie is a graduate of the Applied Photography program, Sheridan College. She was recently announced as a winner of the Flash Forward Emerging Photographers Competition presented by The Magenta Foundation, 2017. Katie’s current practice involves using primarily color negative film. Her work is inspired by the great photographers of the past and people she surrounds herself with in the present. Katie aims to provoke questions, start conversations, and educate surrounding varying topics through documentary photography.

About their Format Walls work:

“The photos that are being shown are from a body of work that was photographed between November 2015 and April 2016. Driving and sleeping in a 1988 camper van, I traveled from Toronto westward to Los Angeles, California, making numerous stops along the way. This body of work was photographed entirely using 120mm film. I’ve chosen to print these photos on newsprint to emphasize a nostalgic feeling. I want these prints to be touched, ripped, sun dyed, coffee stained. It is so cool that we can be witness to their transformation.”

See Katie Sadie’s work on Format Magazine.
katiesadie.com

Lara Kruzins

Lara Kruzins is a photographer based in Toronto.

larakruzins.com

Lauren Pelc-McArthur

Lauren Pelc-McArthur (b. 1989) is an emerging visual artist from Toronto currently based in Montreal. Through painting and 3D animation she responds to various facets of technology and information culture. She has participated in residencies in Canada, abroad, and online. She has received several awards including grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Pelc-McArthur is currently completing her MFA at Concordia University.

laurenpelcmcarthur.com

Laurence Philomene

Laurence Philomene is a freelance photographer, director, and curator living in Montreal. Mentored by Ivan Shaw (executive photo director at Vogue) and Ramaa Mosley (Splendid & Co). Curator of the Coven Collective and Camp Gallery. Working around themes of gender identity, queerness, and color theory.

About their Format Walls work:

“I shot Pink Candles a few years ago when I was starting to experiment with themes of femininity/masculinity, queerness, and gender identity in my work. I really like the rawness of the image and how quiet it is at the same time. I shot it with my friend Edwin who is a longtime muse of mine; just playing around the studio with colors and wax.”

laurencephilomene.com

Mariah Hamilton

Mariah Hamilton (b. 1992) is currently living in Hamilton, Ontario after graduating from the University of Toronto (B.Ed) and the University of Guelph (BAH, Studio Art).

About their Format Walls work:

Found is a series of photographs that centers around forgotten 35mm film rolls that have been donated to second hand stores. Images developed from these film rolls act as stand ins for lost photographs within a lost medium. Drawn to how the materiality of the physical photograph contrasts with the immateriality of the online image, I physically manipulate the forgotten materials as a reference to the materiality in the surface that we experience in contemporary online image viewing culture. This series offers as an embracement and reconnection to the lost past of the physical 35mm snapshot in relation to the digital image viewing culture that we live in today.”

mariahdontcarey.com

Mark Sommerfeld

Mark Sommerfeld is a self-taught, image-based artist and photographer based in Toronto. His work oscillates between portraiture, research-based stories, and snapshot reportage of world events; altogether influenced by the humorous, sensual, and transient subtleties of daily life. Last year Mark self-published his first book, For Now, and has recently had work published in Bloomberg, Frieze Magazine, It’s Nice That, The Globe and Mail, and the Cardiff Review, among others.

About their Format Walls work:

“This image is as yet untitled and was made in February 2017 as an ode to the bewildering natural beauty and complicated passage of time in the village of Hampi, Karnataka, India.”

Read our interview with Mark Sommerfeld.
mark-sommerfeld.com

Matt Moreland

Matt Moreland is a Hamilton-based photographer, curator and road-tripper. His love for film photography has been a lifelong adventure starting with documenting family road trips and evolving into making work about his life on the road.

About their Format Walls work:

“Over the past year, I have dedicated a great deal of my time practice to instant film and using photography as a tool to make memories into tangible objects. The work being shown is a collection of some of the instant photos I have taken on my travels throughout this year. Trying my hardest to embody the idea that ‘the journey is the destination,’ my focus has been on trying to capture the imperfections and one-off qualities of the photographs I took while travelling across North America on family road trips as a child.”

See Matt Moreland’s work on Format Magazine.
mattmoreland.photo

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer, photographer, and journalist, born and raised in beautiful Winnipeg, Manitoba. He currently lives in a little house on Canada’s east coast.

About their Format Walls work:

“I chose these photos because they each feel populated with ghosts—the haze of pot smoke, spectral slow dancers, a vampiric, late night pieta scene. Each is set in a different world, places with points of access that are always vanishing.”

See Matt William’s work on Format Magazine.
mattwilliams.format.com

Melissa Renwick

Melissa Renwick is a documentary photographer currently based in Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, in Canada. She has covered stories on human rights, social justice, and gender issues. Her work regularly appears in Canada’s leading newspapers, like The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. She has been named Photo Boite’s 30 Under 30 Women Photographers, an Emerging Photographer by The Magenta Foundation, and Canada’s 2015 and 2016 Photojournalist of the Year by the News Photographers Association of Canada. She previously worked as a staff photographer at the Toronto Star.

About their Format Walls work:

“I am currently working on a long term documentary project in Tofino, British Columbia. I am exploring the island and shooting on traditional black and white film with a Mamiya 6. These portraits will be part of a longer term study of the people and place.”

melissarenwick.com

Moira Ness

Moira Ness is an emerging photo-based artist specializing in contemporary landscapes and algorithm-based text. Moira has exhibited at The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Red Head Gallery, Latcham Gallery, Orillia Museum, The Art Gallery of Mississauga, OMNI MODERN, and The CICA Museum. She was a finalist for RMG Exposed 2016, a finalist and overall winner for the 2017 UNTAPPED Emerging Artist Competition for The Artist Project, and a finalist for SNAP! 2017 Photo Auction. Moira participated in the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition where she won the Emerging Artist Award. Moira is currently showing her work at NordArt in Büdelsdorf, Germany. She recently was the artist-in-residence at The 108 Residency in Upstate New York.

About their Format Walls work:

“I had an encounter with a woman in Dutchess County, NY. One night we drove over to Catskill to the rundown bowling alley, Hoebowl. She gave me a few dollar bills and told me, like a child, to go buy some dragon temporary tattoos from the vending machine at the other end of the alley. While I was gone she texted the 50-something she was involved with, the one I called ‘Mr. Metallic Pumpkin.’

"We went to the bathroom and held damp paper towels on our arms to set the tattoos. I was taking photos of our arms and my cell phone started playing the last song I had paused on shuffle. She heard the music and smiled and asked, coyly, if I was trying to set the mood. Not with Coldplay, I said. I left Upstate a few days later.”

moiraness.com

Nick Bierk

Nicholas Bierk (b. 1985) grew up in Peterborough Ontario. He studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. Bierk lives and works in Toronto and has exhibited work in Canada and the United States.

About their Format Walls work:

Kristen holding a Cat is painted from an image taken last summer, north of Toronto, with my father’s Leica. She was standing in a cabin holding my brother’s cat and it was the time of day where the sun is low and the shadows are long. She was bathed in sunlight and it was a moment I knew I would revisit in the studio. While making the painting I was considering many of the images depicting women with cats by artists like Renoir, Picasso, Manet, Kahlo, Freud, and more.”

nickbierk.format.com

Pranavi Suthagar

Pranavi Suthagar is currently a graphic designer based in Toronto studying at OCAD U, working as a designer at Peace Collective, and creator of Not Sari.

About their Format Walls work:

“These pieces are a part of a larger series of digital collages I created called Respect Your Elders. I used scans from old Bollywood posters to create narratives around the shared experiences of the South Asian millennial diaspora. These pieces explore themes such as parental pressures, the experience of dating online as a brown female, the cultural concept of sexuality and purity, and reinterpreting the third eye as the changing perspectives of South Asian millennials.”

pranavi.format.com

Rima Sater

Rima is a self-taught film photographer whose work is rooted in the interactions between person and place. She focuses the attention of her images on the coexistence of urban and natural landscapes, and how we exist within and perceive them.

About their Format Walls work:

“The photographs I am showing are from two separate trips I had taken this year. Each was shot during a moment spent alone to admire the sunset and reflect on things I had seen and done on the days leading up. I am always so enamored with the sun’s transition, that sometimes it brings me to tears (laughs at self), especially when traveling and experiencing these blips of self-discovery. These images mirror that for me; realizing how much I have learned about film photography and how much I have progressed with this medium.

"It is so rewarding to know you’ve perfectly exposed an image to develop exactly the way you saw it. And the most exciting thing for me is connecting that to what translates on film—the colors, the lighting, the shapes. I wanted to communicate the importance of pausing to absorb your surroundings and understanding how they affect you.”

See Rima Sater’s work on Format Magazine.
rsater.com

Sarah Bodri

Sarah Bodri is a Toronto-based artist working primarily in analogue photography. Born and raised in a border city, her work often explores notions of boundary establishment/dissolution, reflexivity/reflection, and art practice as labour. She holds an Honours BA from York University in French Language & Literature and Womyn & Gender Studies, and her work is always informed by a radical feminist worldview.

About their Format Walls work:

“Photography and portraiture have an unparalleled ability to facilitate a very oppressive and objectifying gazing dynamic between ‘subject’ and photographer. My response is to approach portrait making with this radical empathy between me and whomever I’m photographing—my own vulnerability works to facilitate that of others and to make them feel safe. Landscape photography functions as self portrait to me, and these photos from a residency in Joshua Tree (2016) give a good sense of where I was at psychically during that time.”

sarahbodri.com

Tobin Yelland

Tobin Yelland is the only child of two artist parents. Still and movie cameras were common tools in the house growing up. His subject matter started in skateboarding and led him through many amazing subjects from musicians, athletes, film stills, ad campaigns. Whether working on fine art or commercial projects Tobin finds an outlet for art and inspiration, an opportunity for growth, and adventure.

About their Format Walls work:

Jason Lee is tall and skinny. In making this photo I wanted to place Jason coming toward and above the viewer to give the feeling that you might get run over.”

Read our interview with Tobin Yelland.
tobinyelland.com

Wynne Neilly

Wynne Neilly is a Toronto-based, queer-identified, visual artist and award winning photographer. Upon completion of his BFA in Image Arts at Ryerson University, Wynne has directed his focus on producing and showcasing work in gallery spaces internationally. It is important for him to continue sharing his experiences and images around the world through online mediums and physical installations. Wynne focuses on portraiture and editorial work, using its personal nature to reflect the development of identity and the complexities of human gender expression. His work seeks to normalize the queer and trans body.

About their Format Walls work:

“The intention of this series is to explore and celebrate the non-normative queer body and how they complement and contrast the environment around them.”

wynneneilly.com

Yannick Anton

Yannick Anton is a Toronto-based professional photographer who shoots on digital and film.

About their Format Walls work:

“All the photos are from an ongoing series. Yes Yes Y'all is a monthly, inclusive LGBTQ bashment which I’ve been shooting for the past seven years. The people who attend are some of the most beautiful and inspiring people in Toronto. The presence of confidence and energy the people bring to the event makes the dance and the fashion pop. The photos are an attempt to mirror that energy that the party creates. The photos are expressions of freedom from an often oppressive Western society.”

Read our interview with Yannick Anton.
yannickanton.com

Zhamak Fullad

Zhamak likes cats. She hopes you like her photos just as much as she likes cats.

See Zhamak Fullad’s work on Format Magazine.
zhamakfotography.com

Cover image by Mariah Hamilton.

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