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By Jacqueline Nunes

Before there was any talk of 10th anniversary galas, huge crowds, the media and rooms full of art, there was…Well, nothing.

The idea for Maximum Exposure first occurred to founders Jeanne Lys and Narcena Wong when they saw that, unlike Ryerson, other arts schools, such as the Ontario College of Art and Design, had exhibitions to showcase student work.

Former film student Stacey Wright joined the two photography students and they set out to create a show they hoped would have a long legacy at Ryerson.

The opening gala of the first show, in 1995, drew 1,200 people to the Image Arts building, where practically every room was filled with student photography and film.

“There is a tremendous amount of talent in (the Image Arts) program,” Lys says. “It’s so hard to get in. The first-year students are already incredible artists.”

The first show faced apathy from faculty and students, as well as a lack of funding. The founders and their support crew of 29 Image Arts students organized bake sales and coffee mornings and sold T-shirts to get exposure and raise money.

The curators of this year’s Maximum Exposure are Graydon Sheppard and Karen Brockest, who have been on the show’s committee since their first year at Ryerson.

Many of the people involved with the first show will attend this year’s opening gala, in celebration of its 10th anniversary. “The thing I remember most was feeling really pleased for the students,” Lys says. “This show is a real achievement for them. These artists deserve a place to show the magical things that they’re creating.”

But the spotlight will be on artists such as fourth-year student Becky Comber, whose work will be showcased professionally for family, friends, people in the industry, faculty and fellow students.

“You spend the year in a dank room fiddling with pieces of plastic and then finally you get to show everyone these amazing things that you have slaved over,” Comber says.

For more information, visit the website.

Maximum Exposure. Image Arts year-end show. April 28 – May 1. Image Arts Building.

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