Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts - winners

This morning at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts announced the eight winners of the 2011 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. The awards each come with a cash prize of $25,000 and a medallion. The awards are given in recognition of career achievement and outstanding contributions in the visual and media arts by Canadian artists.

The recipients are photographer Geneviève Cadieux, visual artist Robert Fones, performance and visual artist Michael Morris, filmmakers David Rimmer and Barbara Sternberg and painter Shirley Wiitasalo for distinguished artistic achievement; metalsmith Kye-Yeon Son received the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in fine crafts; and Nancy Tousley received the Outstanding Contribution Award for her 30-year career as an art critic and journalist.

This is the 12th year for the Governor General's Awards. The Governor General of Canada David Johnston will present the 2011 Awards at a ceremony at Rideau Hall (1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa) on Wednesday, March 23 at 6 p.m.

Canada Council for the Arts celebrates distinguished career achievements in the visual and media arts

Toronto, February 22, 2011 – The eight recipients of the 2011 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts represent a broad spectrum of artistic practice, including photography, performance art, experimental film and metalsmithing. The winners, who come from across Canada, were announced today by the Canada Council for the Arts at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Photographer Geneviève Cadieux, visual artist Robert Fones, performance and visual artist Michael Morris, filmmakers David Rimmer and Barbara Sternberg and painter Shirley Wiitasalo won the awards for distinguished artistic achievement. Metalsmith Kye-Yeon Son won the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in fine crafts, while Nancy Tousley received the Outstanding Contribution Award for her 30 year career as an art critic and journalist.

In addition to a $25,000 prize, the winners will each receive for the first time, a special issue medallion designed by the Canadian Heraldic Authority at the Chancellery of Honours and produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. The medallion will be unveiled on March 23 during a ceremony at Rideau Hall. 

An electronic press kit complete with video interviews, nomination statements and event listings as well as images of the artists and their works is available on the Canada Council website.

“It is an honour to present this year’s Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts to such an accomplished group of Canadians,” said His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. “Their work has enriched our lives and influenced our nation in such creative and innovative ways. On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank them for their outstanding artistic contributions.”

“As we celebrate the distinguished career achievements of the 2011 Governor General’s laureates, we should also recognize that they continue to create new work that inspires and enlightens us,” said Joseph L. Rotman, Chair of the Canada Council. “The creative spirit that lies deep within each artist shapes our nation’s cultural identity; it is for this reason that the eight Canadians we recognize today are truly exceptional.”

Geneviève Cadieux

Geneviève Cadieux’s art explores the metamorphosis of photographic and cinematic images through the recording and production process. Whether shown in a museum, private or public space, the presentation of her artwork inspires a theatrical, cinematic scene designed to affect its viewers by drawing us in. Cadieux has participated in numerous international exhibitions and at major art biennales – Montreal, São Paolo, Sydney and Venice, where she represented Canada. Her work has been in several individual exhibitions, including at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (1993), the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in Vancouver (1999), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton and the Art Gallery of Hamilton (2000). She received a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Ottawa, and is now an Associate Professor in the Studio Arts Department of the Fine Arts Faculty at Concordia University in Montreal, where she currently lives.

Robert Fones

Robert Fones began his 40 year career in London, Ontario, where he was a founding member of Forest City Gallery. Fones often combines elements from popular culture and design such as packaging, pictograms and letterforms with investigations into geological, cultural, and industrial history. He has explored these ideas through artist books, published by Coach House Press and Art Metropole, sculptural letterforms with applied photographic imagery and paintings that hover between geometric abstraction and trompe l’oeil. Fones has exhibited in Canada, the United States and Germany including a solo show at The Power Plant (1989) and a solo travelling exhibition organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario (1991-92). In 1991, he received the Toronto Arts Award for Visual Art. He has taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto and currently in the Art & Art History program at Sheridan College. He lives in Toronto.

Michael Morris

In 1969, Michael Morris co-founded Image Bank, a national vehicle for facilitating the exchange of ideas, images and information between artists by mail. Image Bank, and the mail-art exhibitions and publications that emerged from it, circulated internationally and put Vancouver on the map as an artistic hub. Recognized as an accomplished curator, Morris is also the co-founder of Western Front Society, Vancouver’s first artist-run centre, and the Morris/Trasov Archive at the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery at University of British Columbia. Over the past 45 years, Morris has produced an exceptional body of work in film, photography, video, installation and performance and is known primarily for his intelligent, dazzling and ambitious abstract paintings and prints. His work is held in many important collections including the National Gallery of Canada, The Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Ludwig Museum (Cologne, Germany) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, England). He currently lives and works in both Vancouver and Victoria.

David Rimmer

David Rimmer’s magical experimental films demonstrate his mastery of the medium. As one of the finest technicians of Canada’s avant-garde film movement, Rimmer began his practice in Vancouver’s artist-run Intermedia Co-op in the late 1960s. By patiently scratching, looping, colouring, rear‑projecting and re-filming surplus film provided by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board of Canada, Rimmer produced his signature works, such as
Surfacing on the Thames (1970) and Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper (1970). With over 40 films in his portfolio, from animation to documentary, Rimmer remains one of the most respected film artists in Canada. His work has been screened in many prestigious venues such as the Canadian Cultural Centre (Paris), Canada House (London), and the European Media Arts Festival (Osnnabruck, Germany) and is in many national and international collections, including The Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the British Film Institute and Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute. He has taught at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Simon Fraser University and University of British Columbia, and gives animation workshops for residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Rimmer lives and works in Vancouver.

Barbara Sternberg

Barbara Sternberg never thought of herself as an artist when she first started to play with her father’s 16mm camera. Today she is recognized as one of Canada’s most distinctive and innovative media artists with a stellar 35 year production and exhibition history. Sternberg is a trailblazer with a rare ability to see and show the human condition; the intersection of film and life is the area of her work. She often uses the painstaking process of optical printing to transfer Super 8 images to 16mm to produce her works. Her groundbreaking films have been screened widely across Canada and internationally, including at The Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris). Her work is in many major collections, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada. Sternberg has worked in other media including performance and installation and since 2000, has also made a number of videos. Also of note is her role as co-founder of Struts Gallery, an artist-run centre in Sackville, New Brunswick and founding member of Pleasure Dome, a film artist exhibition group in Toronto. Sternberg currently lives and works in Toronto.

Shirley Wiitasalo

Shirley Wiitasalo’s highly-celebrated talent as a contemporary painter has received critical and public attention throughout her career. Undaunted by the medium’s rich history, Wiitasalo creates work that is unpredictable, challenging and new. From her evocative imagery to her recent explorations that employ a more reductive vocabulary, Wiitasalo is interested in unravelling the mystery of painting itself. She has participated in solo exhibitions at The Power Plant, Toronto (2000), the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (1993) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (1987), in several important group exhibitions across Canada, including at the National Gallery of Canada (1989), and internationally at the Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany (1994), the Fodor Museum, Amsterdam (1984), 49th Parallel, New York (1982) and the National Museum of Art, Tokyo (1981). Her work is in many major national public collections, such as the National Gallery of Canada. Wiitasalo was born in Toronto where she continues to live and work.

Nancy Tousley, Outstanding Contribution

Whether she’s writing criticism, reviewing, blogging or tweeting,
Nancy Tousley is either creating a buzz in Canada’s art scene or is plugged in to one. Known primarily for her indispensable work for Canadian Art magazine and the Calgary Herald, where she was an art critic for 30 years, Tousley is able to make art accessible and relevant. Described as engaged, meticulous and fair, she respects the artists she interviews and the readers who follow her work. Of note are her contributions to art publications, her catalogue essays, her work as an independent curator and the numerous awards she has received for outstanding achievement in arts journalism from the Canadian Museums Association, the Ontario Association of Art Galleries and the Province of Alberta to name a few. Originally from Louisiana, Tousley lived in New York for 10 years before moving to Toronto in 1975 and Alberta in 1977. In 2010, the Alberta College of Art + Design appointed her as the school’s first critic-in-residence. Tousley currently lives and works in Calgary. 

Kye-Yeon Son, Saidye Bronfman Award

Kye-Yeon Son’s metal objects, which are delicate, fragile, elegant and powerful, quietly command attention. To Son, line is the most important element of expression because of its ability to move. Movement through direction, space, volume and texture is mastered in Son’s work, whether the object is sculptural, such as her wire vessels, or functional, such as her silver teapots. Born in South Korea, Son received her bachelor of fine arts from Seoul National University and her master of fine arts from Indiana University. She has exhibited her works in numerous solo and group exhibitions in public and commercial galleries across Canada, the United States, South Korea, Germany, Japan and England. Son immigrated to Montreal in 1984, joined the faculty of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 1995 and became a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2000. Among her many awards are the 2006 NICHE Award and several Awards of Excellence from the Metal Arts Guild, Toronto. Son currently lives and works in Halifax.

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