Calgary photographer focuses on Alberta’s ‘treasures’

Ramsey Kunkel features portraits of Albertans all in one artspace

By Emma Boyne | July 26, 2022 |5:00 am

Portraits of both recognizable and unrecognizable Albertans are on display at the Sparrow Artspace in Bridgeland.

Photo: Submitted

The Calgary community is a tight-knit group, always looking for new ways to connect and support each other to build a brighter future.

With COVID sweeping the nation over the past years, a local photographer wanted to highlight the Alberta community and the impact it has made in building our province. 

Ramsey Kunkel has lived in Calgary all of his life. Having worked in photography over the years, Kunkel has had the opportunity to capture a wide range of people.

Through his travels, Kunkel has built up a collection of portraits of locals who embody Alberta, and is now showing his exhibit, the Alberta Portrait Project, at the Sparrow Artspace in Bridgeland. 

Showcasing Albertans

“What I have here is portraits just of local Albertans, and primarily just Albertans that have helped sculpt the landscape and our culture in Alberta,” Kunkel says.

“I was just looking at all the great people that live here around Alberta that, I would say, always go unnoticed, but we’ve just got a treasure of people here—we don’t really get to look too far outside of our own neighborhood to find people that are doing amazing things.” 

Kunkel was inspired by the people he grew up with, especially his dad. With such a connection to his community, his dad became a driving force for Kunkel to connect the community and create the Alberta Portrait Project. 

“My inspiration was because my dad was a musician and he played with a lot of people that were local. He was focused on life in Alberta,” Kunkel says. “There is just a treasure of people around that I would like to document and tell the story a little bit about who they are.”

Growing a community

Jenny Tzanakos works at the Sparrow as an artist, and says art is a fantastic way to connect people.

Tzanakos says the community has been growing ever since the arrival of Kunkel’s exhibit at the artspace.

“We get just such diverse people coming in from the public, and actually it’s been great because a lot of people who’ve come in have ended up either doing workshops or will be doing residencies in the future,” Tzanakos says.

“Quite a few have just moved here recently, and it’s been a nice place for them to meet other people, meet other artists, meet other immigrants, to work together and collaborate in a way that I think really enriches everyone’s lives.” 

Portrait exhibit

With the exhibit open to the public Thursdays through Saturdays, Kunkel says he is excited to see how people interpret the art. 

“There’s a wide variety of [portraits], and a lot of times people have a personal connection to them,” Kunkel says.

“I’d like [people] to come in and have that connection and walk away feeling like they’ve seen something, and there isn’t a divide, and that they feel like they were part of it in the sense [that] we all have a connection here.” 

For more information on the Alberta Portrait Project, visit the Sparrow Artspace website.

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Emma Boyne

Emma Boyne is an intern at Calgary Citizen.

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