The new photographs that we are featuring at Art Toronto are an evolution from Dobson’s 2013-2014 series “Viewfinder”, where she merged vintage viewfinder glass with her own photographs of the Great Lakes. The new series, “Focus Finder”, uses the same format, though the glasses that we are now looking through are viewfinders from digital and film cameras as well as camcorders and binocular lenses.
The new body of work began because of her upcoming 2021 solo exhibition of the “Viewfinder” and “Focus Finder” photographs at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia. These new “Focus Finder” photographs will complement the earlier series but also comment on the geographical location of Sarnia and our current moment. The US border and notions of Canadian identity reveal themselves in some of these photographs.
The Great Lakes for Susan still symbolize a restfulness, meditative, longing for looking. But now she is also thinking about climate change, rising water levels, pollution, natural disasters, and plastics that threaten our aquatic life. The photographs, started pre-Pandemic and completed during, are thoughtful visual reminders of our natural world.
Susan Dobson graduated with her MFA from the University of Guelph in 1997. Her work has been exhibited in major photography festivals such as CONTACT (Toronto), Fotoseptiembre (Mexico City), Images Festival (Vevey, Switzerland), Le Mois de la Photo (Montreal), Bitume/Bitumen (Brussels), and FotoNoviembre (Tenerife, Spain) as well as public gallery exhibitions across Canada, the US and Europe.
Recent exhibitions include the 2017 Art Gallery of Windsor Triennial of Contemporary Art, feature exhibitions at Fotonoviembre 2017 (Tenerife, Spain), Images Festival (Vevey, Switzerland), and City Landscape at In Focus Gallery, Cologne, Germany.
Extensively reviewed with articles in CV Photo, Harper’s, Photo Metro, Magenta Magazine, Prefix Photo and Border Crossings, Dobson’s work has also been published in Carte Blanche, a compendium of Canadian photography in 2006, and Massive Change, Bruce Mau’s 2004 primer on new inventions and technologies.
In 2011, Dobson received a major grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to fund a 4-year collaborative project with curator Alison Nordström of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. The group exhibition, Of Time and Buildings, which included Dobson’s work, was first shown at George Eastman House in March 2014 and travelled to the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in 2015.
In 2019, Dobson was longlisted for the Scotiabank’s 2019 photography award. Her series of photographs “Slide Library” will be the feature exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre during Contact 2021.
Dobson’s photographs are in the corporate collections of BMO Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank and TD Bank Group as well as many public galleries including the National Gallery of Canada, Oakville Galleries, Swiss Museum of Photography, and the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Spain.
She lives in Guelph, Ontario where she is Associate Professor at the University of Guelph.