“In her outdoor photographic installation, Roots, Toronto-based artist Sandra Brewster explores the long history of Black presence in the urban wilderness. Developed during her tenure as Koerner Artist in Residence at Evergreen Brick Works, the photographs document the area’s plant life, greeting visitors as they explore the valley. ” 

“Brewster’s evocative imagery shifts between presence and absence, being and becoming, moving forward and receding. Her process of applying the images through a manual gel-transfer technique leaves behind small, fragmented, papery bits that stick to their wooden panel supports, while other parts of the photographs have worn away. The areas that remain refuse to take leave in the transfer process, resolutely staying behind. Her process is not unlike memory, in this sense. Once life is made into a memory, the distance between past and present widens, becoming less distinct across generations and geographies. The layers of Brewster’s works peel back like an onion; their sepia tones steeped in time, their temporality mirroring life. As a record of a specific moment, Roots captures nature’s continual state of change. The photographs function as meditations on materiality, the interconnectedness of the ecosystem, and the humanity that lies within it.”

Excerpts from exhibition essay by Charlene Law

Sandra Brewster: Roots, 2021-2022

Sandra Brewster: Roots May 18 – November 1, 2022 CONTACT Photography Festival

Installation photos credit: Ibrahim Abusitta

Roots | 2022 | Work