Last Chance to See The Family Camera at the ROM (closing October 29)

The Family Camera exhibition at the ROM closes on October 29th. Don’t miss your chance to see it!

This visually engaging exhibit features over 200 objects, mostly photos, that are from Canadian homes but were taken all around the world. Encounter images and stories that are familiar and surprising, funny and moving.

Star columnist Murray Whyte describes The Family Camera as “a potent reminder of the vital role photography played in not just recording but creating family histories in a country as vast and complex as ours.”

The Family Camera presents material collected through The Family Camera Network, a public archive project that collects family photographs and their stories and preserves them for future generations.

The Family Camera, installation view (Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view (Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

This exhibition explores how photography shapes the idea of family. In Canada, migration is central to family history, whether recent or in the past, and over short or long distances. Family photographs play an important role in reflecting and shaping these experiences.

The Family Camera considers how ideas of family change in response to social, political, and technological factors. When political or economic instability reconfigures families, sending and receiving snapshots help us connect with loved ones far away. Cultural shifts such as marriage equality and transnational adoptions expand our notion of family, while new technologies like social media transform what we capture and how we share. From departures and arrivals to everyday moments and milestones, family photographs depict our journeys and make us feel connected. Even family photos that are lost or destroyed linger with us.

The Family Camera, installation view showing Happy Father’s Day (2015) by Jeff Thomas and the State of Family section (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view showing Happy Father’s Day (2015) by Jeff Thomas and the State of Family section (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

In addition to loans from private and public collections, this exhibition features new works by artists Jeff Thomas and Deanna Bowen. Both artists draw on their personal archives to recover, re-frame, and reclaim their family histories. Thomas juxtaposes his own photographs with archival and historical representations of First Nations people in Happy Father’s Day (2015) and captures the sharing of Indigenous knowledge in Husking and Braiding White Corn (2017). Bowen’s work, We Are From Nicodemus (2017), is a video about a journey that was sparked by a family photo. This video shows Bowen meeting a recently discovered cousin for the first time as she traces her family’s migration history from Nicodemus, Kansas to Campsie, Alberta.

The Family Camera, installation view of We Are From Nicodemus (2017) by Deanna Bowen (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view of We Are From Nicodemus (2017) by Deanna Bowen (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera also includes The Living Room, an immersive installation by OCAD University students. This piece was created by artists, designers, and curators in the Digital Futures and the Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media & Design Graduate Programs, and the Visual and Critical Studies Undergraduate Program under the guidance of Martha Ladly, Immony Men, Julie Crooks, Jennifer Orpana, and ROM staff. Here, you are invited to listen to the stories and see the photographs of three participants in the comfort of the living room space.

The Family Camera, installation view of The Living Room (2017) by OCADU (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view of The Living Room (2017) by OCADU (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)

The Family Camera, installation view (Photo: Brian Boyle MPA, FPPO photo, 2017 © ROM)


Organized by the Royal Ontario Museum with the support of The Family Camera Network and presented concurrently at the ROM (until Oct. 29, 2017) and the Art Gallery of Mississauga (now closed). Curated by Deepali Dewan, Jennifer Orpana, Thy Phu, Julie Crooks, and Sarah Bassnett, with the assistance of Sarah Parsons and Silvia Forni. Special Thanks to: Toronto Photography Seminar, Digital Futures Graduate Program at OCAD University, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Ryerson University’s Photography + Film Preservation and Collections Management Graduate Program, Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, and Western University.