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Photo Express, Rwanda, 2018
Superstars Saloon, Rwanda, 2018
Byer Lake Mirror, 2022
Before the Girls, Barton, 2009
iron-transferred to canvas
55 cm x 30 cm
Maximum Transitions, Barton, 2009
Digital Photograph iron-transferred to canvas
120 cm x 30 cm
NYC Genius, 2009
Digital Photograph collage
Sonya de Laat Biography
Photography forms the foundation of my artistic practice. It has also been central to my academic engagement. I understand photography to be a medium that can ignite imagination of lived experiences, becoming a vehicle for empathy and social change, at the same time it can a be a rhetorical device and persuasive tool, for right and wrong. Through my education about and engagement with visual theories and philosophies of photography, it has become increasingly apparent to me that the many facets and contradictions of this medium are vital aspects of camera technology, and visuals more broadly. That photographs can appear on the surface to be so simple to understand, yet can conceal much more than they reveal, is an aspect of the medium that I like to play with and mobilize in my own work. Often, I have aimed to keep this complexity of the medium foremost in the mind of engaged spectators. My interests in the social, cultural, political, moral and imaginative experiences made possible with photography have kept me focused on photography since long before I was able to articulate this fact.
I enjoy working with analogue and digital photography, numerous photocollage techniques, mixed media with photographs and visual storytelling. My interests extend well beyond making photographs and photo-based art. I am a keen presenter of histories of photography (including those of Hamilton or Canadian photographers), enjoy teaching fundamentals of photography (analogue and digital), and am passionate about supporting the exploration of photography by those wanting to learn. With degrees in Anthropology and Media Studies, I am also a staunch proponent of photo-based research methods, participatory visual-based research methods, and exploration of photographic archives. My day job is as Academic Advisor and Curriculum Coordinator with the Global Health program at McMaster University. I am also involved in research with the Humanitarian Health Ethics research group, the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History, and a network on ethics of global health visuals.