Chris Miner aware of the lineage of sacrifice
Submitted by Dr Irwin Streight
For photographer Chris Miner, a camera is a means to express commitment and to explore mystery.
A long-time Kingston resident, Chris was curious about the culture of the military college across the La Salle Causeway. “I expected it to be a place of conflict, but instead found it to be a place of remarkable connections,” he stated. As RMCC’s 2015 artist-in-residence, Chris Miner, along with his camera, has been discovering the connections between communities within the walls of the College.
More than just his camera has clicked at the College. Chris continually remarks on how warmly welcomed he has been by students, staff, and administration alike, and particularly by members of the milwing. “It seems my interest in people at the College, as expressed by my camera, is reciprocated by their openness to share their work and ideas with me,” said Chris. His roving camera has travelled from the Parade Square to the firing range, into engineering labs and onto the decks of the MV Cordite plowing through the waters of the Cataraqui River. Along the way, in his own humble phrase, he has collected “a few images with impact.” Some of these images recently appeared in the Principal’s Strategic Planning Document.
Chris Miner studied Applied Photography at Sheridan College and Film Studies at Queen’s University. He had a 20-year career detour as a substance abuse counselor in prison and community settings. Currently, he works as a full-time photographer, artist, and teacher from his shared studio/darkroom in downtown Kingston. In 2013 his series of large-format portraits of local artists and their work was displayed at the Modern Fuel Gallery in Kingston. Chris’s iconic picture of the late Canadian poet Al Purdy alongside Kingston writer Steven Heighton (RMCC’s first artist-in-residence) has been well viewed at Wayfarer’s Books for over 15 years. Queen’s Agnes Etherington Art Gallery recently purchased a large diptych work by Chris that features celebrated Kingston writer Helen Humphreys. And his work has appeared in major periodicals and hangs in a number of collections internationally.
Months before he officially hung up his shingle as RMCC’s artist-in-residence, Chris could be seen around the College with his classic view camera, a Deardorff V8, designed in 1928, that takes black and white images on an 8 x 10 inch negative. This camera type was used on the battlefields of Europe during The Great War. Chris has photographed a number of subjects at the College with his view camera. Some of these images will eventually be exhibited at RMCC. In an effort to be present at College events over the school calendar, Chris had his boots on the ground last May to photograph the Bruciepalooza musical review and the Arch Ceremony, and in the fall, the Obstacle Course and Badging Ceremony, along with other RMCC events.
As artist-in-residence, Chris has made himself widely available, well beyond his required commitment of one workday per week. (He chose Monday, where he can be found in Massey 331B, when not on assignment somewhere.) Chris has met one-on-one with several individuals to review portfolios and talk camera tech, and is about to present his second photography workshop—offered on two upcoming Monday nights, March 16 and 23. (See an announcement on the RMCC Intranet for details.) Responses to Chris’s first workshop in late January were unexpectedly high—around 60 requests. So, he offered the same workshop four times to accommodate all who were interested. “In these workshops, I am trying to demystify digital cameras and help people notice all the amazing visual experiences in our lives,” he explained.
Through the generosity of the RMC Foundation, Chris recently traveled as the embedded photographer on the 2015 Battlefield Tour. During preparations for the Tour, Chris engaged with students and faculty, advising on effective camera techniques to use to capture valuable photos of their impending experiences.
Asked how the Tour had affected him, Chris responded after a thoughtful pause, “I became aware of the lineage of sacrifice.” He recalls poignant moments that his camera captured: LCol (ret’d) Doug Delaney kneeling behind the gravestone of his great uncle; Officer Cadet Graham Mater taking a rubbing of his great uncle’s name from the wall at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium; the testimonies of faculty and students on the Tour regarding their predecessors who had fought and died for Canada. “A sense of our connectedness to others through duty and death— this had a profound effect on all of us.”
Chris was inspired by the dedication of Major (ret’d) Michael Boire and LCol (ret’d) Doug Delaney and admired the way they conducted the Tour: stressing the importance of good decision making by officers in the field of battle and taking a hard look at loss. “They were uncompromising in their willingness to do this,” said Chris. “To me, this was one of the treasures I found on the adventure.”
The culminating event of Chris Miner’s term as artist-in-residence will be a public talk and photo essay in Currie Hall that will segue to the opening of an exhibition of photography in Baronial Hall, tentatively scheduled for the evening of April 28th. The exhibition will showcase Chris’s images from events and encounters photographed during his term at RMCC, and those of students and staff and faculty with whom he has worked. Central to the exhibition will be an awards ceremony for winners of the March On Photography Contest currently underway at the College, an initiative of the PAO’s office. All of the photographs in the exhibition will be professionally printed and framed, and, it is hoped, will eventually grace a number of walls and halls and office spaces at the College.