Mina Ao, Jason Brown and Gloria Pizio | Past, Interrupted

PastPast, Interrupted


March 6 – 29, 2014

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 13, 2014 7:00 – 9:30 pm (Artists will be in attendance)

Art Crawl: Friday, March 14, 2014 7:00 – 11:00PM

Jason Brown, Gloria Pizio and Mina Ao return to locations in Canada, Italy and China to photograph subject matter that questions culturally idealized representations of places they recall, or to which they have a close connection. With the passage of time, the artists have come to understand the complex and evolving reality associated with these environments in a way that begins to critically reconcile how their personal affiliations effected how they had previously regarded these locations. Through these photographic explorations, they have begun to appreciate how from a young age, these culturally imprinted associations have intertwined with the pervading cultural imaginary associated with these romanticized locales, in a way that differs from physical reality.

Jason Brown was born in Elliot Lake and has travelled Highway 69 in Northern Ontario all of his life. His photographs investigate and shed light on the significant changes that are occurring as this 75-year old roadway faces expansion. He combines portraits, landscapes, and still lifes in a series of photographs that explore the natural, economic, social and cultural challenges faced when trying to expand a highway along which both communities and nature have long settled. Gloria Pizio is of Italian descent; her photographs are of Venice, Italy, a city located not far from her family’s village in Lombardy.  For Gloria, Venice offers a morose beauty with layers not immediately apparent to throngs of tourists. The Venice ‘machine’ keeps turning, spinning a romantic fantasy, but in reality it is a city in transition, coded for extinction. Her photographs describe crumbling buildings, chaotic waterways, empty courtyards and a traditional landscape increasingly subject to modern influences. Mina Ao grew up in Macau before it was transferred back to China in 1999.  Her series is engaged with the ramifications of Mao’s former leadership. She travelled by high-speed rail to Mao’s hometown and witnessed first-hand a nation that has been stretched into extreme directions due to Mao’s influence and the current rule of the communist party. She documented the towns and cities that represent the changing face of the country and wonders if these changes are what the people of China had originally anticipated.

By juxtaposing these somewhat disparate narratives, the perceived changes within these locations become almost interchangeable for the viewer. By interrupting the pervasive narratives tied to their past, each artist explores, critically considers and begins to reconcile these locations between a sense of longing for the simplicity of past apparent truths, and the reality of the present.

Jason Brown is an emerging photographer based in Toronto. His work explores storytelling and hints at narratives found in our built environments and the nominal subjects in our surroundings. Born in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Jason holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree with a concentration in History from Carleton University in Ottawa and he has studied photography at Ryerson University in Toronto. Jason has exhibited his work in solo and group shows at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, the Thames Art Gallery, the Rotunda Gallery, the Market Gallery, and the Orillia Museum of Art and History. Jason is grateful for the support of the Ontario Arts Council.

Gloria Pizio’s photography exhibit is part of a larger body of work, and continuing series, that references decay, mortality and transition. This visual artist and photographer is a professional writer and certified ad agency practitioner (CAAP, ICA Toronto) with extensive experience in corporate marketing, communications and photographic art direction. She is President and Creative Director of Pizio Advertising Inc., holds a BA(H) in Studio Art from McMaster University and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo. Her work has appeared in the Art Gallery of Hamilton, McMaster Museum of Art, Carnegie Gallery, as well as corporate placements at McMaster University and Takeda Canada Inc.

Through photography, Mina Ao explores the subjects of nature, culture and personal encounters. Each body of work is a discovery, using photography as a process to observe, ask questions, and bond with her subjects.  Ao’s work often involves the viewers in a cultural dialogue.  Ao was born and grew up in Macau.  After high school, she moved to North America and studied at York University, where she earned her Hons BSc. It was there that her story with photography began, when she took a course in analogue photography.  Later, she left her job in information technology to work with leading photographers in New York City.  Ao has lived in Hamilton for the past few years, where she continues to create bridges through photography. Mina Ao would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council for their generous support.

L: Jason Brown, Antoinette and Thommas, Parry Sound, ON, 2011 (detail), 2011, Archival pigment print.
M: Gloria Pizio, Billboard on Canal, Venice, Italy 2011 (detail), 2011, Archival pigment print.
R: Mina Ao, Visiting M_O: Walking on the Rope, 2011 (detail), 2011, C print.

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