National Gallery of Canada: Stephen Wilkes to be first artist in Contemporary Conversations

Contemporary Conversations with American artists set to resume Nov. 30 with photographer Stephen Wilkes.

The internationally known American photographer Stephen Wilkes will kick off the Contemporary Conversations series at the National Gallery of Canada on Nov. 30. It will be his second appearance in the series, but this time he is bringing something with him.

Wilkes is known for panoramic time-lapse photographs. In advance of Canada Day, the photographer quietly came into Ottawa, set up on a rooftop and captured the celebrations with his unique Day to Night ‘eye’. The image caught 18 hours of the sesquicentennial apex.

According to his website the Day to Night project began in 2009. Wilkes describes these images in this manner:

“These epic cityscapes and landscapes, portrayed from a fixed camera angle for up to 30 hours capture fleeting moments of humanity as light passes in front of his lens over the course of full day. Blending these images into a single photograph takes months to complete.”

Stephen Wilkes

The series of conversations was begun under the Obama administration by former U.S. ambassador Bruce Heyman and his partner Vicki Heyman. The couple were truly co-ambassadors to Canada. The idea was to stimulate awareness of contemporary American art in the Canadian capital.

The series has featured artists such as: Kiki Smith, Anne Chu, Theaster Gates, Eric Fischl, Nick Cave, Marie Watt and Wilkes.

The program is co-presented by the gallery, the U.S. embassy and the U.S. State Department.

Vicki Heyman, in particular, was known in the capital as an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and culture in this country and beyond. She said in 2016 that “I truly believe that art and the artist’s voice are the most powerful agents for change.”

The other conversations in the series will be revealed at a later date.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.