Artist Elena Willis's Cloudy Classroom

Elena Willis’s (2007). Photo: Image courtesy of the artist and Eli Klein Fine Art, New York.

Inspired by a 1966 tragedy in which coal waste trickled down a mountain in a Welsh mining town, engulfing a nearby school and killing 144, Elena Willis’s Aberfan 1966 seems an exercise in surrealist photographic technique. Not one to lean on Photoshop's user-friendly effects, Willis combines the results of two separate studio sessions here — one with the boy, and another with the super-eerie black smoke. Her work currently is up as part of a group exhibition of contemporary Canadian art at Soho’s Eli Klein Fine Art. —Rachel Wolff