Mike Morris is a photographer who seeks out untold stories within his native city of Toronto. With his signature Rolleiflex, he takes a highly personal approach to the photographic narrative, not only embedding himself within the groups he documents but also becoming a part of them, sharing in their memories. Morris has exhibited his work in This City II, a group photography exhibition at Coldstream Fine Art that was organized as part of the 2017 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, and Pool Hoppers, his debut solo exhibition at the gallery.
The work in Art Gems is part of the Pool Hoppersseries, which sees the artist continuing to explore alternative or underexposed communities, developing fringe narratives through his signature candid photography; the series is the culmination of three years of work in which the artist embedded himself within Toronto’s distinct subculture of summertime pool hoppers. With his insider perspective on the namesake group, oftentimes joining in the revelry himself, Morris is able to capture stunning shots of what he considers a small piece of Eden: “Beautiful people running around doing whatever they want, but far from anarchy.”
Participation is key to the artist’s method, shown both in his dedication to manually developing each photograph by hand and his personal involvement in the events he photographs. This series, however, is more than a view through his eyes. It is a perspective on the formation of a community, on vulnerabilities to be shared enthusiastically and on the thrill of authentic experience. Most importantly, it is a reminder that the opportunity to be a part of something is always in front of us, even if it involves breaking a few rules.