Boys and Boxes
October 28 to December 31, 2007
Ian McDonald
Boys and Boxes is an exhibition by Kamloops artist Ian McDonald that features approximately 42 photographic portraits of technicians working at Highland Valley Copper, Canada’s largest open pit copper mine located near Logan Lake, an hour's drive southwest of Kamloops. The workers, all men, are specialists in a variety of trades, and the portraits include those of welders, heavy duty and automotive mechanics, electricians, machinists, tire men, and millwrights. McDonald, who also works at Highland Valley Copper, has photographed each man standing next to his tool box.

The men portrayed in Boys and Boxes are members of the United Steel Workers Union Local 7619. Their tool boxes are individualized with stickers, magnets, posters, and other decorations, and can be understood as physical extensions of the men’s personal identities. As portraits of individuals within a collectivized environment, the images examine the ways in which individuals assert their uniqueness within the group. Photographing with the camera at eye-level, McDonald creates equality between viewer and subject in these sensitive portraits.

Boys and Boxes is also a rare study of the mining industry’s demographics: nearly all the men in the photographs are in or near their fifties, representing a generation that came of age when trade opportunities were few and highly sought. Most of these men have worked at Highland Valley Copper for 20 years or more, and have experienced the miner’s life of closures, strikes, and mergers. McDonald’s images present a sociological perspective on an industry that is often viewed only through the lenses of economics or the environment.

The Kamloops Art Gallery is proud to present McDonald’s first solo exhibition in a public art gallery and to pay tribute to the mine workers in our community. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour catalogue with an essay by Thompson Rivers University instructor Terryl Atkins.
Generously sponsored by Off-Centre Magazine, United Steelworkers Local 7619, Highland Valley Copper
View images of the exhibition here.

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