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Sarah Foy, MFA, Documentary Media

Research interest:

Sarah Foy was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship in 2013 to support her master’s thesis project, Landed: Together in Canada, which features same-sex couples who immigrated to Canada because they could not live together in the United States. The project explores how these couples struggled to stay together, how they decided to immigrate to Canada and how recent changes in U.S. law will affect their plans for the future.

The Landed exhibition opened on May 28, 2014 with the launch of external,DOC NOW, the Ryerson documentary media festival. Landed is also an official affiliate event of WorldPride 2014 Toronto, and was feaetured in the Emerging Artists Project gallery at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, May 24 to June 29, 2014.  

Toronto Star external,article and external,photo gallery

What was the inspiration for Landed: Together in Canada?

"I am an American, and in 2009, I fell in love with a non-American. At the time, U.S. federal law did not recognize same-sex marriage, and it did not permit U.S. citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners for permanent residence in the U.S. For my partner and me, this meant that our only viable option was to leave the U.S. when her student visa expired in 2012. We left our home, our community of friends and family, and our jobs and professional networks for the hope of finding a permanent home together.

"Fortunately in our case, my partner is Canadian. Because the Canadian government recognizes same-sex relationships, it was fairly straightforward for me to begin the process of immigrating to Canada as her partner. For many binational couples, the situation is far more complex because neither partner is from a country that recognizes same-sex relationships. Within a couple of weeks of my arrival in Canada, I met another couple who landed here for this reason. This inspired me to find as many couples as I could who immigrated to Canada because they could not live together in the U.S. I ended up identifying over 50 couples (including one who contacted me after reading about my project on the external,WorldPride website), 17 of whom I interviewed and photographed for Landed."

Why Ryerson?

"The MFA in Documentary Media program is one-of-a-kind in Canada, and for those (like me) who are interested in photography and new media as opposed to exclusively film, there are very few programs like it in the world. I spent a decade working for political and public interest organizations in the U.S., and when my partner and I decided we had to move to Canada in 2012, I had just begun to pursue photography full-time. I was (and still am) interested in storytelling, so the “documentary” focus of the program seemed a perfect fit for me. It was also my hope that going back to school would help ease my transition into a new career and a new country.

"The Documentary Media program at Ryerson has been wonderful for me on all counts. I feel lucky to have spent the past couple of years surrounded by creative, kind and supportive people in my department, and they have helped me begin to navigate my way around the vast and exciting art world of Toronto."

Advice for prospective grad students?

“Grad school is your time to work on exactly what you want to work on, so enjoy it! It all happens so quickly.”

Future plans:

“I am in the process of thinking through how I might continue to work on my thesis project. I would love to arrange for an exhibition of Landed in a gallery in the U.S. I may also seek funding to expand the project, e.g., to same-sex binational couples without a connection to the U.S. (or Canada), or to LGBT individuals who have sought refuge in Canada because it is too dangerous or difficult for them to live in their own countries.”