The Story Project
Coordinated by Jennifer LaFontaine and Camille Turner
The Story Project is an exhibition that brings together works by women from diverse cultures and lived experiences that use photography and digital media to tell their stories and express their visions for social change.
Through the use of photography and digital media, thirty women – representing twenty-three languages – bridged their cultural and linguistic gaps and created a uniquely vibrant visual representation of their shared experience. As they worked to develop and express their visions of social change, the women found power in coming together, sharing stories and learning from one another. Their participation in the project also led them to reflect on their experience of living in Toronto and explore new aspects of that experience.
The women were asked to bring in objects that told us something about who they were. They brought clothing, photographs, household items, jewellery and food from their cultures. It was a real celebration. They bonded as a group as they listened to songs, saw fashions, ate together, taught each other their languages, recipes and customs and saw how alike and different they were.
When asked to sum up in three words the process of sharing their stories, they came up with "sisterhood," "friendship" and "celebration." The video documentation of the process of sharing stories formed the basis of the exhibition. A ten-minute video documentary and several experimental short pieces were created from the raw footage. The photography group continued to shoot and develop photographs that tell their story, then passed them on to the digital group, who integrated them with the website.
The final result is a dynamic community collaboration in the context of electronic media arts that challenges the audience to broaden their understanding of who is represented in art or associated with technology.
Project coordinators Jennifer LaFontaine and Camille Turner, both professional artists, met through their work with social agencies and found that they shared a common vision of empowering communities to tell their stories using art and technology. Their ideas guided a collaborative project between Central Neighbourhood House, a multi-service agency in downtown east Toronto, and InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre. During the project, women learned hands-on media skills such as video, photography, sound, editing and web design.
LaFontaine has been facilitating a Women's Photography Program at Central Neighbourhood House for over five years. Her projects involve women in art-making processes in which they use images to tell their stories, explore issues such as poverty and violence against women, and advocate for social change.
Turner is a curator and artist based at InterAccess. Her art practice involves subverting the system of power that technology exists within to find her own voice in media and empower other people to do the same. Turner was joined by Philippa Pires, a digital artist who works in the web design industry, who co-taught the digital component of The Story Project.
Central Neighbourhood House is a multi-service agency that has been providing programs and services to the community since 1911. Central Neighbourhood House offers a variety of programs including the Women’s program, children and youth, an adult shelter for the homeless, home support and daycare services, and is located at 349 Ontario Street.