This New Toronto Art Exhibit Will Make You Feel Way Better About Your Awkward Family Portraits

Looking for something to do this holiday season other than getting drunk on rum and eggnogs?

From now until December 30, The Gladstone Hotel will feature awkward family portraits that will make you feel better about any of those special gems that grace your parents’ walls.

The exhibit, entitled This Is Us, provides a look into the lives of two artist couples – Camilla Singh and Walter Willems, and Robyn Colangelo and Mark Sprott – who have been making holiday portraits and sending them out by mail and e-mail for over nineteen years and twelve years respectively.

Throughout the years, the photographs have become much more than your typical family holiday greeting. They are bold and theatrical, elaborately staged works of art, rich with cultural references, irony and humour.


Of course, back in the day, without smartphones, digital cameras, and Instagram filters, taking a decent family picture was actually a major challenge.

Without fail, your dad’s eyes would be shut or one sibling wouldn’t be smiling or would be looking in another direction entirely. Then there’s always the amazingly cheesy holiday department store shot that was pretty much a rite of passage for the celebrating families of eighties babies.

Either way, family holiday portraits from times past are usually awkward AF.

Knowing that, it’s pretty cool to see how the couples behind This Is Us have embraced the awkwardness and turned it into something thought-provoking.

Be sure to head down to the Gladstone to check out the exhibit for yourself.

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