Toronto sex workers crush myths in new photo exhibit
Eleven current and former sex workers living in Toronto have decided to tear down some myths and show the city what life on the street really looks like. They all signed up to be part of The Exposure Project, an initiative created by the All Saints Church-Community Centre, and photos they've taken will be shown in an exhibit at the centre on Friday.
I spoke with one of the artists, Janet, and she said her goal is to reframe the way people think about sex workers. Not all of them work on the streets, not all of them are drug users, and not all of them are forced into the work, by any means. Carly Kalish of All Saints thought of the idea, and she says it's her goal to help empower the women in an accessible way.
"We like to have creative options for people to express themselves and learn about themselves therapeutically. You can do that through art and creative expression; you don't always have to talk and do a regular therapy session and spill your guts."
I got to see the photos as they were hung up the other day, and they are truly beautiful and arresting. The women had complete creative freedom as they worked, and there are bright shots of buildings and houses in the city, faces, shots of co-workers, rumpled beds.And yes, drugs and homelessness. The photos capture so many facets and fluctuations of life on the streets, and their tones roam the full range from darkness and solitude to brightness and innocence.
This is definitely an eye-opening exhibit, and worth checking out. The artists will be present, and there will be snacks and drinks served all evening. The photographs will be auctioned off in a silent auction, as well. It's on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m., and tickets are $42.75, with all proceeds going back to All Saints to fund creative projects for women.
Installation photos by Andrew Williamson