Experience Canada like never before, with photographer Tim Van Horn’s To Canada With Love exhibition at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery (MAG) through to Aug. 20th. An official launch runs May 26th from 4-8 p.m.
Van Horn is a modern-day adventurer, who uses his talent as a portrait photographer to capture the essence of what makes us Canadian.
Over the past eight years, Van Horn has traversed the country five times and he has created over 50,000 ‘day in the life’ portraits of Canadians via the Canadian Mosaic Project.
He assembles the portraits into mosaic images, representing iconic symbols of Canada.
The portraits in each mosaic represent Canadians from all walks of life, in all stages of life, in communities from sea to sea to sea. The exhibition at the MAG offers an opportunity to have a close look at some of his extraordinary study and celebration of the Canadian mosaic.
“On Oct. 1st, 2008 on what was supposed to be a one year trip across the country and low and behold it’s been a decade-long look at the Canadian identity,” said Van Horn. “When I got out there I realized there was no all-encompassing portrait of the nation and I took it upon myself to create something that represented the authentic tapestry of Canada.”
So far, Van Horn has photographed 54,000 people so far, making it the largest portrait ever created in Canadian history.
“Those portraits come from 1,200 communities from every province and territory in Canada, all of which has been done on my own dollar,” he said. “I have not been able to successfully secure any federal funding of my Canada 150 project.
“I’m disappointed. Any interviews I’ve had in the last eight years – it’s been for the 150 (birthday of Canada). I was told I have been doing this project for too long. You can’t capture the essence of Canada in three months.”
Van Horn will now head out to 150 communities in 2017.
He will take his motorhome, which is decked out with 54,000 portraits of Canadians, to various communities. In addition to having the motorhome on display for Canadians to see, he will also continue taking portraits along the way.
“By the end of 2017 going into 2018 by Canada Day, I’m putting together this inspirational video with the message that everyone is sharing with the rest of Canada,” he said. “There will be still photography shots as well as videos. Those two will come together to make a 15-minute documentary all about putting a face to who we are.”
Van Horn is certainly passionate about what he is doing and he is looking forward to inspiring others along his journey.
“There is a real need to motivate and unite this country – more than ever before. My project is more valid now than when I started eight years ago. We are the envy the world over and it’s important that we feed that beautiful unspoken ideology that Canada has here,” he said.
“I’m having such a good time with this, I’m learning so much. Everybody that we meet, we learn something from. So the more people you experience, the more you learn about life and this is what it’s all about – this is what life is all about.”
Although Van Horn has already spent eight years on the road, he is looking forward to embarking on this new journey.
“What I look forward to most is the adventure. I get to go on this endless adventure, I get to roll into town and be welcomed by the public,” he said.
“What I’ve learned is that Canadians are really an open and generous bunch of people. If you have a reason to talk with your fellow Canadian, they are open with you. It doesn’t matter where you are or what nationality, if you just approach somebody, the overwhelming response is completely open and positive. Canadians are an open and accepting nation.”
Lorna Johnson, executive director of the MAG, said she is proud to exhibit Van Horn’s mosaic work.
“Tim is a gifted portrait photographer, and his To Canada with Love project is inspiring in its scale and its commitment to celebrating the diversity of our vast country. We are happy to show the work here in Tim’s home town, and to launch him on his Canada 150 cross-Canada tour,” she said.
Meanwhile, on May 26th, Van Horn invites Red Deerians to attend the event and have their portrait taken for the project.
The public can also sponsor a kilometre for $20, which includes the receipt of an art card set as a thank you.