Honorary degree citation - Sam Tata
By: Katherine Tweedie, June 1982
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Sam Tata, an accomplished photographer, eye-witness to our time and above all, a humanist.
His photographic career has led him on journeys through India, Japan and China where he witnessed one of the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century, the Chinese revolution in 1949. In Shanghai, he was never without a camera to record a momentous event and its effect on the people. For Westerners, the Shangai photographs depict moments removed from our experience; they supplement or contradict other sources of information so that we may better comprehend a society which was in the process of profound change.
Sam Tata's journey brought him to Canada in 1956. In time he produced a photographic document of historical importance, but this time for Canadian culture. It is a series of portraits of artists, photographs which are unassuming, unpretentious, each preserving the identity and dignity of the individual. Like his own extensive interests, Tata's portraiture reached out into every artistic discipline; writers, painters, musicians, poets, sculptors, actors, photographers have come under the scrutiny of his eye; he has provided us with a physiological document of the figures who construct our visual and verbal world.
Non visual artists in their own way have recognized his achievement; in 1979 Canadian Fiction Magazine, a literary review, devoted an issue to the photographs of Sam Tata. It was the first time in the history of the magazine that an entire issue was devoted to a non verbal artist. It is now our time to honour him.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Sam Tata, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.