The Bay Dedicates Iconic Hudson’s Bay Windows to 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadian Artists for ‘Portraits of Pride’
Travelling photography exhibition highlights the work of four acclaimed photographers
Hudson’s Bay Foundation commits $300,000 to Rainbow Railroad in support of the queer community
(TORONTO, ON) June 10, 2022 — Honouring the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, The Bay is proud to unveil an artist exhibit -Portraits of Pride - within its iconic store windows in cities across the country. The exhibitcelebrates the complex realities of queerness with a curation of powerful images and stories by four Canadian photographers: Kali Spitzer, Brianna Roye, Jared Bautista and Garrett Naccarato, each representing their respective interpretation of living an open and colourful life. To coincide with the exhibit, Hudson’s Bay Foundation has made a 3-year committment to Rainbow Railroad, a global, non-profit organization dedicated to helping the queer community around the world find safety from persecution and violence. The exhibit will first debut in Toronto at Hudson’s Bay’s Queen St flagship beginning on June 10, 2022, and travel to Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal through the summer.
“We have long-believed that Canada is made better by the diversity that exists amongst our customers, communities and associates,” says Iain Nairn, President & CEO, of The Bay. “Using our windows to showcase this incredibly talented group of creatives through their thought-provoking and celebratory work, we celebrate the beginning of Pride month and spotlight the importance of inclusion, acceptance and equality this month and year-round.”
Hudson’s Bay Foundation’s commitment to Rainbow Railroad will deliver $300,000 over the course of a 3-year partnership, to assist 2SLGBTQIA+ communities across Canada. This commitment will support the Rainbow Roailroad’s aid programs including Emergency Travel Support, which includes providing safe shelter, first response in global escalations of violence, and connecting queer community members to resettlement services, allowing them to live openly and without fear.
To see Portraits of Pride and the artists’ powerful stories in person, visit: Hudson’s Bay Queen St, Toronto: June 10 to July 4, 2022; Hudson’s Bay Vancouver Downtown, July 4 to August 1, 2022; Hudson’s Bay Montréal Centre-Ville, July 4 to August 8, 2022; Hudson’s Bay Calgary Downtown, August 1 to September 5, 2022.
About The Artists
Brianna Roye is a Toronto-based photographer whose warm, intimate photos shine a light on her own community – 2SLGBTQIA+folks of Caribbean descent. Roye, who is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, started her signature series, “Out of Many, One People” after feeling left out of the queer media she grew up adoring. Shows likeQueer as Folk andThe L Word helped shape Roye as a queer woman, but she didn’t see anyone like her on screen. As a photographer, she’s created the images that were missing: beautiful and reflective shots of subjects from across the Caribbean diaspora who are out, proud and full of queer joy.
Roye’s subject for this shoot, Donnovan, is a fixture both on queer TikTok and in Toronto’s Gay Village. The pair spent the day talking about their shared cultures – Donnovan is Jamaican and Guyanese – and stopped to take photos every few blocks during a walk through the west end of Toronto. “Donnovan is full of life,” Roye says. “People are used to him being goofy and in your face, a jokester. I was lucky to capture another side of him – he’s very multifaceted.”
“I like my photos to exude warmth because that’s what I feel when I interact with people,” she continues. “Queer people are not just objects to fetishize, we’re everyday people with feelings, trials and tribulations, and we should be respected and treated as such.”
As a child growing up, I didn’t see people who looked like me that were gay, queer or anything. The gay people I saw were white, cis and male. Much of my work was born out of that lack. I like to photograph all sorts of queer Caribbean people, not just Jamaican people because all the islands deserve the lens of them. For people of Caribbean descent to show that we’re here and we’re queer.
Kali Spitzer is a proud Kaska Dena, Jewish two-spirit artist whose identities inform their photography practice at every step. “Being Indigenous and queer feel inseparable to me,” Spitzer says. “The same as how being Indigenous means you are inseparable from the land. One cannot talk about land rights without talking about Indigenous rights. One can not speak of Indigenity without speaking of queerness.”
Working on the Traditional Unceded Lands of the Tsleil-Waututh, Skxwú7mesh and Musqueam Peoples, Spitzer uses photography to tell stories of people, ceremonies, and culture. Their practice aims to redress how photography has historically often been used by colonizers as a harmful tool. Spitzer’s work does the exact opposite: their photographs accurately represent BIPOC and queer community members. And in the process, Spitzer creates images that are complex, liberated and beautiful.
For this portrait, Spitzer chose to photograph an Indigiqueer couple, Brianna Olson Pitawanakwat/Waasezi Niimda Nongoons kwe and Nanook Gordon/Waabshki Miungun, who are pillars of their communities and co-founders of Native Arts Society and Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction. The images were made using 35mm 120 and large format Tintypes, which were in their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s, to create images that fuse together the past and the prese
“I amplify people’s voices and stories and celebrate all walks of life. I am there to support somebody and witness them,” Spitzer says. “When someone sits for a portrait with me I want them to feel comfortable, safe, and celebrated in all their complexities and identities.”
Deciding to share this portrait with HBC was a hard decision for me. My family, like many Indigenous families, were harmed by the historical actions of HBC when it was founded. These intergenerational effects continue to be felt today. Like too many Indigenous folx across Turtle Island, my parent was stolen to attend residential school. These intergenerational effects continue to be felt today. As an Indigenous femme who was directly impacted by colonialization, sharing my work in this way with HBC feels extremely vulnerable. With permission from my collaborators, we decided to do this for Indigenous peoples who will witness this image. In particular, we hope Indigiqueers will look at this photograph and feel proud to be Indigenous, proud to be queer and proud to be represented.
Jared Bautista He/him
As a young boy, Jared Bautista hoarded issues of Vogue in his bedroom in Calgary, poring over the fashion editorials wondering how the magazine’s photographers were able to create such alluring images. Though he studied engineering, Bautista honed his photography skills on the side, eventually bouncing between New York and Montréal to master the craft before returning home to take part in Calgary’s burgeoning fashion scene.
When he was a kid, Bautista would also test out his mom’s makeup; a formative experience he shares with one of the subjects of this portrait, Lucius Eisnor. After Eisnor told him he did the same thing, Bautista fetched a tube of red lipstick for him in the studio. “It was so playful,” Bautista said. “It reminded me so much of growing up, me stealing my mom’s makeup and expressing my feminine side.”
The day of the shoot, Bautista talked a lot about Pride with his subjects, Eisnor and Elizabeth Fox. “Pride holds such a special place in my heart. I’m so grateful to be living in a country where we’re allowed to be out and have freedom and a voice.”
In selecting Eisnor and Fox for this portrait, Bautista wanted to spotlight 2SLGBTQIA+ models in an effort to create more queer representation in Calgary, which can be a conservative city (Eisnor is gay, Fox is transgender). “It was so refreshing to see Lucius and Elizabeth express themselves so freely. They’re so proud to be out, so well informed, and such good advocates.”
This was my first shoot back on medium format film. The last shoot I did on film was seven years ago. I’m rediscovering this new side of photography again. I wanted to shoot this on film to celebrate my own new outlook in my art. With this image, I want to break down the walls of gender and show that all of us have both masculine and feminine inside us. We have a duality and I wanted to portray that. It’s something to celebrate.
Garrett Naccarato He/him
Garrett Naccarato’s photographs are soft and sensitive, but they also offer a bit of a wink – just enough to let the viewer know he has a sense of humour. Part of what the viewer’s seeing is how the gay Montréal-based photographer sets his subjects at ease.
“I’m goofy, I make jokes, and my process is very organic,” Naccarato says. “Portraiture is very intimate. The person has to feel comfortable.”
Naccarato took this portrait while his subject, the model Mina Gerges, was visiting Montréal for Pride. The pair had been chatting online and Naccarato was inspired both by how Gerges takes up space as a queer Egyptian and by his trailblazing career as a model.
“He’s breaking barriers in fashion as a plus size model,” the photographer says of Gerges, who has appeared in PAPER and fronted a national campaign for Calvin Klein. “I love what he’s done for body positivity, especially within queer culture.”
“He’s unapologetic,” Naccarato says. “I love his confidence.”
I see my imagery as a snapshot of the moment while society is in a state of constant renewal. Capturing my subject's personality is integral to my process. When someone sits down for a portrait for me, I don’t want them to feel self-conscious at all. I want them to feel extremely comfortable. Everyone is used to taking photos of themselves and used to seeing themselves a certain way. To let that wall down and let someone interpret them differently than how they would is hard for people. Evoking emotion in the viewer is the most rewarding as a visual creator.
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Hudson’s Bay Foundation is a registered charity, working to address racial inequality by investing in education, employment and empowerment opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, Black People and People of Colour. In 2021, Hudson’s Bay Foundation launched the Hudson’s Bay Charter for Change, committing $30 million over 10 years to accelerate racial equity in communities across Canada. By partnering with organizations doing critical work under its three pillars, Hudson's Bay Foundation provides funding for programs and initiatives driving meaningful and sustainable change.
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