The gallery is pleased to present, “Hamilton,” our second solo-exhibition by Canadian
Photographer Joseph Hartman.
In 2007, photographer Hartman (b. Barrie, Ontario, 1978) relocated from the small rural
community of Lafontaine, Ontario, where he lived most of his life, to Hamilton, Ontario.
Initially feeling disoriented and disconnected from the city, he began to photograph
Hamilton as a way to understand the place he now calls home.
“Hamilton” is Hartman's largest body of work to date; it spans seven years and includes
more than 40 photographs captured with a 4 x 5 view camera on colour film. Hamilton, a
city best known for its steel industry, is now in a state of transition as heavy industry
slowly leaves. Hartman overlooks the factories and smoke-laden skyline that have
represented the city for decades and instead documents a cross-section of Hamilton's
working class neighbourhoods and the surrounding landscape. He focuses on the city's
east end, drawn in by the "gritty personality" of the people and buildings of the area.
Although his photographs concentrate on Hamilton, his images depict remnants familiar
to any North American city affected by globalization. For generations, families could rely
on steady work and fair wages producing many of the staples and trappings that we have
come to enjoy in a successful society. The pursuit of wider profit margins and the
lessening of tariff restrictions caused the majority of these jobs to be located elsewhere.
The subsequent erosion of stability for these middle class workers is made evident by
desolate downtown streets and the increase of low end stores. Their resilient citizens wait
poised for another rebirth while their surroundings continue to bear the marks of their
recent hardships. Hartman’s photographs serve as a reminder of what remains, and offer a
glimpse of promise.
After receiving a Master’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of McMaster in 2004
and being accepted into Medical School, Joseph Hartman decided to pursue a career as an
artist. Hartman, a self-taught photographer, has apprenticed with Canadian photographer
Edward Burtynsky. Hartman’s work can be found in several collections including: The
Art Gallery of Hamilton, The MacLaren Art Centre, Royal Bank of Canada, TD Canada
Trust, and Farrow Partnerships Architects.