Frank M. Stark: The Budd Car Train from Sudbury to White River

8 December 2022 TO 29 January 2023

Location

Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d'art de Sudbury

251 rue John Street
Sudbury, ON
P3E 1P9

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Artists

Frank M. Stark

Curator

Ally Zmijowskyj Carlos

Artist’s Statement

The Budd Car train, one of only two rail passenger services remaining in Northern Ontario, helps to alleviate the isolation of people along the railway from Sudbury to White River. There are only six “official” roads that cross the route, with dirt lumber roads in some places. But vehicles are not always available. Nor are bus services for communities or Indigenous lands along the track. If a family lives in any of these communities, however, they can take the Budd Car train to other communities and the wider world. Isolated settlements and lodges on the route also depend on the Budd Car train for freight, supplies, and for communication with the transportation network.

Riding in a train, it sometimes feels like time is suspended. This exhibition offers images of moments that can reveal the stories of communities, their interactions with the train, and the train itself as a traveling community of passengers and staff. Photographs and accompanying commentary also aim to reflect the importance of vulnerable people who live in these remote communities, in the context of the Canadian Shield and of a historically important railway.

The Canadian Shield, the ecosystem that covers a third of Canada including the mid-north of Ontario has been part of my identity. That connection has included family ties, counseling at summer camps in youth, and my interest in the political economy of Northern Ontario as a teacher and academic researcher. Social policy, including policy about the matrix that relates low income to isolation, poorer health, powerlessness and vulnerability, has also been a part of my personal advocacy and academic experience. Both Shield and social policy are linked together in a paper of which I am a co-author, “Rurality and Northern Reality,“ published in 2016.

The themes of the Shield and social policy also converge in my Masters of Fine Art Research Project about the role of the Budd Car train upon which this exhibition is based. Train rides are moments in time. This exhibition is also a particular point in a personal journey of identity, scholarship, and artistic vision. Since teaching at Laurentian University and living in Sudbury for a number of years, my interest in Northern Ontario has deepened. Even though I may now reside in the deep south of Ontario, Sudbury and the surrounding area remains an important inspiration for my work.

About the Artist

After years of teaching Political Science and Sociology at universities in Canada, including Queen’s and the University of Guelph, and social policy issues at the School of Social work at Laurentian University; and rekindling my interest in photography a decade ago, I decided to relate their methods to each other. Academic writing, including the book and articles I have published, is aimed primarily at academic audiences. I still have academic connections as a Research Associate at Trinity College in the University of Toronto, but I thought that combining writing about social and political subjects that are important to me with photography about these topics, might communicate with a wider audience. To assist with the development of this idea, I went back to school, enrolling in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Documentary Media at Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).

The research for the M.F.A. degree, granted in June 2020, looked at remote communities, and the alleviation of isolation of their residents along the CP rail corridor between Sudbury and White River. The Canadian Shield is one of my great sources of self-identity. This project provided an opportunity to combine images of a part of the country that I love with the inclusive role of the Budd Car train along the CPR corridor as both a social institution and a means of transportation. I learned a lot and met some great people (although I have not included many of their images in this public presentation). The included photos are an expression of my increased understanding. I hope you enjoy them.

This exhibition was supported by an Exhibition Assistance Grant from the Ontario Arts Council.

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