Showing “Moose Jaw At Work” at the MJMAG

Lisa Goudy
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Local photographer Andy Hamilton talks about his latest project, Moose Jaw At Work: A Portrait Series, during the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery's noon hour slides on March 5, 2014.

Local photographer Andy Hamilton wanted to show ordinary people at work in Moose Jaw.

During his noon hour slides presentation at the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery (MJMAG) on Wednesday, Hamilton showed six business owners in their work environment in his series, Moose Jaw At Work: A Portrait Series.

“I’ve really kind of found a line that I want to ride between depicting real people who live in the community, but pushing the way they’re represented to make them more grand and heroic and just beyond the way that we see them on the street in the community,” said Hamilton.

“It’s that attempt to depict everyday people here in our community in a slightly extraordinary way, but not pushing it too much. I still wanted to feel somewhat natural and accessible to the viewer. I just want to enhance it beyond our naked eye.”

Hamilton approached people he’d met before and some people he’d never met and asked if they’d be willing to participate. The six professions included a mechanic, a welder, a painter, a picture framer, a florist and a drycleaner.

“I wanted to choose businesses that had places of work that were visually interesting so machinery or a certain messiness or complexity to what they actually do,” said Hamilton.

It took him two months to do the series, beginning when he came up with the idea, did his research and lined up and did the photo shoots of the businesses.

He has three more people lined up to continue the series.

He has shown his work twice before at the MJMAG, but Wednesday was his first time presenting new work created specifically for the event.

“This is off-season and I’m really trying to make time for personal projects,” said Hamilton. “It’s also fun to work on something where the sky’s the limit and I only have to answer to myself.”

Ross Melanson, administrative assistant at the MJMAG, said the noon hour slides have been ongoing for many years.

“It’s basically through images discussing some place you’ve been, some experience you’ve had. So it can cover anything from going to a conference … or people who’ve gone on art tours or people who’ve just travelled to various places,” he said. “This is an educational component of the gallery that helps people engage with other people’s experiences through images.”

He said it’s based on Japanese culture where people would travel, record their experiences and come home and share it with their family. The noon hour slides are usually well attended, depending on the weather. Eight presentations take place in the spring and eight take place in the fall.

Melanson said there is a 50-50 per cent mix of recurring and new presenters. Sometimes the presentations are on historical events, such as the history of the Moose Jaw Firefighters with actual slides that may be digitized.

He said Hamilton’s series on Wednesday is a “great example” of the museum’s mandate.

“It’s dealing with art-making specifically so it even more clearly fulfills the agenda of the gallery itself, which is getting people to look at art critically or from an informed position,” said Melanson. “It’s a great way to bring the community together.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: MJMAG, Moose Jaw Museum, A Portrait Series

Geographic location: Moose Jaw

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