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Ryerson Artspace | ‘Like A Sister’ by Alia Youssef

Opening Reception: Sunday, March 18th, 2018 2 – 4 pm
Exhibition Run: Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 – Friday, April 6th, 2018


The term “sisterhood” is over a millennium old. What started as a term that defined a kinship or community of women linked by nationality, culture, religion, or trade, now describes a bonding energy between women that’s hard to portray or identify. The women in these photographs represent a now broader definition of “sisterhood,” grown from many different stories. They are friendships since birth, relationships formed over sport or art, bonds created by beginning motherhood together, circles formed by social activism and interfaith groups, and everything in between.

After the inaugural women’s march on Washington, despite the fact that women everywhere seemed more connected and united, this past year I found myself beginning to question the sisterhood in my own life. I felt anxiety around the term and wondered whether I had this bond outside my bloodline. I questioned sisterhood the only way I knew how; I invited myself into close female relationships and documented their intimacy, their strength, and their support through portraiture.

This project asks us to reflect on what sisterhood looks like in our own lives and how we can better improve our female relationships. While creating these photographs I heard the saying, “behind every great woman, are more great women.“ This statement struck a chord with me throughout. In all the relationships I encountered, I saw how influential this support and empowerment can be, and how powerful it is to have someone who is like a sister.


Alia Youssef is a Toronto-based artist and graduate of Ryerson University’s photography program. Her work focuses on visual storytelling through photography and video. Youssef’s work has been published by The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Refinery29, Buzzfeed, and many more online and print media. Most recently, Youssef showcased her work at the Parliament of Canada (Ottawa), Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), and Nuit Blanche (Toronto). Additionally, she was a recipient to both the Combating Hate, Advancing Inclusion award and Dr. Julius Lukasiewicz Award for “producing photographic work that reflects the unique ability of photography to capture images which normally escape the naked eye, and with the touch of a finger, record beauty as it exists everywhere.”
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