KJ Mullins-Toronto: One of the pleasures of the annual CONTACT Photography Festival taking place this month is finding new talent. On Tuesday night at Hotel Ocho, 195 Spadina Ave, an emerging artist launched his first exhibition. Jordan J. Hay has the raw power in his images that can only continue to grow.
Jordan J. Hay did not set out to become a photographer. His first love is journalism which lead to him putting a lens to his eye and capturing what he saw. Four years ago the young Hays was covering the devastation in Haiti when he started taking pictures while on assignment. He was so young to the craft that those first images were on another’s camera. When he submitted his article he included his photos and was surprised that the art was sought after.
In those images and his later work Hay has been able to capture the heartbreak and the hope in the eyes of the world’s poorest children. Each image comes with a tale as Hay gets to know his subjects.
At Ocho Hotel he spoke of the pain grandmothers are facing in areas of Africa that have seen a generation vanish after AIDS brought a tidal wave of death. His photos of one such family in Zambia quietly reflects the struggle where grandchildren are being raised in absolute poverty with little chance of change.
Some of Hay’s work comes from his work with his work with several Not-For-Profits like Compassion, Gospel for Asia, International Red Cross, Picture Change, Save the Children, World Vision. One of the pieces on display features a little girl smiling while holding her family’s new goat in Haiti. I asked Jordan if he sees a difference being made in communities where NFP funds are present. Hay was enthusiastic about how what looks like such a small change, like a goat, can turn the lives of a family completely around.
Hay’s work is impressive. He has the raw talent that makes him an artist to watch and can only grow into his craft. Unfortunately Ocho Hotel is not the best venue for his show. The space’s windows opposite his photos give a glare that takes away from his work. I am sure though that gallery owners who view his images will be lining up to host an exhibition for a young artist who could be the next photographical story teller like Gordon Parks.