Enter the Academy

In January 2020, I attended an exhibition at Westland Gallery in London Ontario Canada where a friend of mine, Paul Lambert, had five of his photographs being a part of an abstract paintings exhibit. Westland Gallery focuses mainly on paintings and photography is not their main interest. Paul’ photographs were invited due to their contemporary abstract content and fitted very well with the overall concept of the exhibition.


I have spoken with the curator form Westland Gallery in the past, but I was not very familiar with the fine details of what exactly is a curator’s role. My research led me to Springer Link paper titled “Beyond the Head: The Practical Work of Curating Contemporary Art”


While my work wouldn’t fit into the type of exhibit that Westland Gallery curates, I began researching other galleries and came across Contact Photography Festival held annually during the month of May in Toronto.

Contact Photography Festival is a non profit organization focused on art and photography. While the festival happens in May and takes place at various locations throughout the city of Toronto, there is also a year round open Contact Gallery in Toronto. The festival collaborates with art galleries and provides programs (workshops, lectures, artist talks, photobook initiatives), and also featured and open call exhibitions. It also provides awards (The Burtynski Grant – $5,000 grant for a Canadian artist in support of production of photobook) and a $5,000 award for outstanding exhibition (The Gattuso Prize).

The festival accepts the work submissions in October for the following year.

The festival provides a great opportunity to reach wide audience and expose work on a local and national level. Participation in the festival also may lead to expanding contacts through the Canadian photography and art industry and possibly international connections.

Tereza Zelenkova, 2017, Chamber of Solitude

When I looked at the previous participants’ work, I thought that my work would fit well within the festival’s contributions. Festival provides support for a wide array of contemporary photographers. I could see my series of Football Moms portraits fit well within the festival’s events.

Joanna Kurowski, 2020, Football Mom series

I also thought about making a series of images together with my friend and fellow Canadian photographer Theresa Bradley. Theresa and I collaborated together on a school project last year and we discussed already a possibility of a project about natural resources of Canada (we both live in Canada, although in different provinces).

Stephen Bulger Gallery also came up in my research as one of the top photography galleries in Toronto. Opened in 1995 by Stephen Bulger, the gallery is curates photographs for a number of estates and in addition to its extensive list of events, it also provides photography publications.


The gallery’s big focus is on contemporary photography and some of my work would fit well with their past and current artists. My audience would be someone interested in the photography in context of life, home, still life, and a presence (or a lack of it) of a matriarch, all in context of emotions.

Joanna Kurowski, 2020, Football Mom series

One of the events currently (although online due to coronavirus) taking place is the exhibition of Andre Kertesz “A Life in Photographs”. He is one of my influencers, mainly due to his skilful blend of emotions and observations. The Art Story describes his style as “lyrical, elegant and formally rigorous”. I also applaud his spontaneous approach to photography over the technical aspects of it.

Andre Kertesz, 1955, Disappearing Act

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