Edward Burtynsky (b. 1955) was born in St. Catharines, Ontario. He received his Bachelor of Applied Arts in Photography and Media Studies from Ryerson University in 1982. Early exposure to the sites and images of the General Motors plant in his hometown helped to formulate his photographic work. Burtynsky’s imagery explores the collective impact we as a species are having on the planet. He has turned his lens on the terrible beauty of industrial interventions in nature such as mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, the production of oil, and recycling. In addition, he has made two award-winning films with director Jennifer Baichwal, Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013).
In 1985, Burtynsky founded Toronto Image Works, a darkroom rental facility, custom photo laboratory, digital imaging and new media computer-training center catering to all levels of Toronto's art’s community. Burtynsky also serves on the Board of Directors for CONTACT, Toronto’s international photography festival, as well as the Ryerson Gallery and Research Center. As an active lecturer on photographic art, Burtynsky's speaking engagements have been held at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, the Art Gallery of Ontario, TED’s Idea City, and Ryerson University in Toronto.
His exhibitions have toured internationally, including Water (2013) at the New Orleans Museum of Art & Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, Oil (2009) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Manufactured Landscapes (2003) at the National Gallery of Canada, Before the Flood (2003), and China (2005). Burtynsky's visually compelling works are currently being exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada, in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Burtynsky is the recipient of the ICP Infinity Award for Art (2008), the Rogers Best Documentary Film Award (2006), the inaugural TED Prize (2005), the Dialogue of Humanity Award at Rencontres d’Arles (2004), and the Roloff Beny Book Award (2003). In 2006, he was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Canada, and holds six honorary doctorate degrees. Burtynsky was recently commissioned to create an immense permanent installation of photographs at the National Holocaust Monument of Canada, which is set to open by 2016.