Over the past few years, numerous efforts have been launched to address longstanding inequities and to reform harmful institutional practices, most often led by grassroots organizations. To celebrate the 2022 Doors Open Toronto theme of “Renewal,” it seems fitting to shine a light on one such local organization, the BIPOC Photo Mentorship Program (BPM). Founded by Sheridan College professor Heather Morton, BPM was launched in Toronto in September 2020 as a way to address systemic barriers faced by emerging BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) photographers, and with the goal of encouraging diversity in the photographic industry. Since then, more than 210 mentorship opportunities have been offered by 100 professional photographers and members of the photographic industry from Canada and the United States. The mentorships have varied in structure and content, and have included fielding business questions by phone, providing on-set opportunities, giving project-specific critiques via Zoom and FaceTime, offering structured research and shooting assignments, and hosting virtual group-based check-ins.
Curated by Michèle Pearson Clarke, Toronto’s Photo Laureate 2019–2022, Shine On is the first exhibition of photographs produced by BPM mentee participants and features the work of early-career GTA-based photographers. Fittingly, these works are situated outdoors at Nathan Phillips Square—a popular gathering spot and the site of innumerable protests. Through the support of their mentors, these artists have built professional relationships that will both increase the opportunities for this work to be seen and have a lasting impact on their careers. Each one is teaching one, strengthening our photographic community as we work toward a more inclusive and equitable visual media industry.
For more information on the BIPOC Photo Mentorship Program, please visit:
Curated by Michèle Pearson ClarkePresented by Doors Open Toronto in partnership with The BIPOC Photo Mentorship Program, CONTACT, and ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022. Doors Open Toronto is presented by Great Gulf and produced by the City of Toronto