2023 Karsh Award Laureate Christine Fitzgerald at Karsh-Masson Gallery

The City of Ottawa is pleased to announce that artist Christine Fitzgerald is the winner of the 2023 Karsh Award. An exhibition curated by Melissa Rombout of work by the laureate opens on May 9, 2024, at Karsh-Masson Gallery in Ottawa.

Christine Fitzgerald, Long-tailed Jaeger Eggs, 2023, pigmented gum impressions on palladium on archival rag, 38 x 38 cm (framed), Natural History Museum Collection, Tring, UK, courtesy of the artist

Christine Fitzgerald
2023 Karsh Award Laureate
Requiem

Curator: Melissa Rombout

May 9 – July 21, 2024
Karsh-Masson Gallery, Ottawa City Hall

Vernissage: Thursday, May 9, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Opening remarks by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe begin at 6 pm.

Moderated Panel Discussion: Friday, June 7, 12 – 1:30 pm
Free admission. Bilingual presentation. Presented in-person and virtually.

Natural History Collections and Creative Exchange: Christine Fitzgerald’s Photographs of Specimens

  • Moderator: Dr. Melissa Rombout, exhibition curator
  • Panellists:
    ◦  Christine Fitzgerald, 2023 Karsh Award Laureate
    ◦  Dr. Danika Goosney, President and CEO, Canadian Museum of Nature
    ◦  Guy Levesque, Associate Vice-President, Innovation, Partnerships and Entrepreneurship, University of Ottawa

This panel discussion considers innovative approaches to creative collaboration across disciplines and how activating aesthetic reconsideration of scientific collections addresses our present moment of ecological precarity.

Artist and curator tour: Sunday, June 23, 2 – 3 pm
Free admission. Bilingual presentation. Presented in-person.

Requiem features fascinating photographs of natural history specimens by Christine Fitzgerald through which the pleasures of looking and the experience of wonder are again present. During her artist residencies studying natural history collections, Fitzgerald selected specimens, collected long ago by naturalists for scientific study, situating these formerly living creatures within a tradition of photographic image-making itself. Fitzgerald presents each unique specimen as the precious object it appeared to be to its bygone human collector. Fitzgerald’s photographs are in themselves material objects: she intermingles digital images with a resuscitation of bygone photographic techniques, practised during the same era of avid specimen collecting—daguerreotypy, wet collodion plates, platinum and palladium printing onto archival rag, pigmented gum impressions.
– Excerpt from the essay by Dr. Melissa Rombout

Christine Fitzgerald, Accordion-fold artist book featuring images of bird nests collected and wrapped in newspaper by William T. Foster during his Paraguay expedition (1894–1903), 2024, platinotypes on archival rag, 51 x 30 x 127 cm, Natural History Museum Collection, Tring, UK, courtesy of the artist

Biographies

Christine Fitzgerald is a photo-based artist and the City of Ottawa’s 2023 Karsh Award Laureate. In her practice, she merges historical photographic methods with digital technology, experimenting with photographic printing techniques, substrates, and the manual application of pigment. Fitzgerald experiments with the imperfections and permutations achieved from mixing current and obsolete photographic techniques, allowing her to push the boundaries of her medium and create a unique aesthetic. Fitzgerald is a graduate of SPAO: Photographic Arts Centre, and Acadia and Dalhousie universities. Her work is held in private and public collections and has been featured by the CBC, The Washington Post, and National Geographic. Fitzgerald was selected in 2016 as the Fine Art Photographer of the Year by the Lucie Foundation in New York City, and in 2017 she was a category winner of the International Julia Margaret Cameron Competition for Women Photographers. Her artwork was part of the 2019 Open Channels National Exhibition at the Âjagemô Hall Gallery at the Canada Council for the Arts, and then featured in 2020 at the International Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2020, her artwork was at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC as part of the featured exhibition, New Light: Canadian Women Artists. Her large collage of cyanotype prints was a top jury selection for Art & Science Initiatives showcased at the influential American Geophysical Union International 2022 Meeting in Chicago, IL, and in 2023, Fitzgerald’s solo exhibition Vanishing was featured at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Dr. Melissa Rombout is an independent curator and lecturer on histories of photography. She received her Ph.D. from the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and has had a prolific career working with museums, libraries, and archives in Canada and internationally. Her recent doctoral research revisited J.L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words (1961) in her proposal for a theoretical blueprint to consider the performativity of contemporary art as political speech. Her current curatorial projects focus on collaborative practices between artists and scientists in fostering environmental advocacy and the resurgence of “extinct” photographic technologies as medium and metaphor in addressing eco-anxiety.

The Karsh Award

The Karsh Award honours the artistic legacy of celebrated Ottawa photographers Yousuf and Malak Karsh. Established in 2003, this award is presented every four years to a local mid-career or established artist for their outstanding body of work and their significant contribution to the artistic discipline in a photo/lens-based medium.

The peer assessment committee who selected Christine Fitzgerald as the 2023 recipient was comprised of Rosalie Favell, photo-based artist and 2012 Karsh Award laureate; Chantal Gervais, photo and video-based artist and 2014 Karsh Award laureate; and Jah Grey, photo-based artist.

“[Fitzgerald’s] inquisitive practice combines historical photographic methods with modern technologies, resulting in a new and innovative approach to portraiture. Fitzgerald investigates our relationship with the natural world while touching on themes of time, precarity, and loss to produce a body of work that is particularly relevant in our current moment.”
– Excerpt from the Jury statement


Karsh-Masson Gallery
Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
613-580-2424 (14167)
TTY 613-580-2401

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