Canada Council for the Arts reveals 2019 Governor General's Awards Winners

Lee-Ann Martin of Carp, Ontario. An independent curator of Indigenous art, Martin is the Outstanding Contribution winner of the 2019 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts.(Photo: Rosalie Favell)

2019 Governor General's Awards arts winners include Lee-Ann Martin, an independent curator of Indigenous art

News Release

Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts revealed the winners of the 2019 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts. This year, eight artists are being honoured with these awards for their exceptional careers.

The winners were selected by a peer committee. In recognition of their excellent work, the artists will receive a $25,000 prize and a bronze medallion at a celebration to take place on March 28 at Rideau Hall. Additionally, some of their works will be displayed at the National Gallery of Canada in the coming months. What’s more, original short films featuring each of the artists have been created in their honour.

“Throughout their outstanding careers, these artists have moved us, provoked us and stunned us. They have shifted our outlooks toward new horizons, compelling us to see the world differently and sometimes even to take a stand on certain issues. Above all, they have triggered reflections within each of us that go far beyond words and images,” says Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts.

The 2019 winners are:

Saidye Bronfman Award

  • Susan Edgerley, Glass Artist (Val-Morin, Quebec)

“Susan’s artistic creations explore the subtle and sensitive avenues of life. They combine female sensibility, poetry, nature, vulnerability, time, and ingenuity with technical excellence, originality, and a deep understanding of art and of her craft.”

— Christian Poulin, Director General, Espace VERRE (nominator)

Outstanding Contribution

  • Lee-Ann Martin, Independent Curator (Carp, Ontario)

“[Lee-Ann Martin] embodies the artist’s dream curator: always thorough and thoughtful, her unbridled enthusiasm and tireless work has helped us tell our stories, in all their weird and wonderful manifestations.”

— Mary Anne Barkhouse, Visual Artist

Lee-Ann Martin is an independent curator of Indigenous art. She is the former Curator of Contemporary Canadian Aboriginal Art at the Canadian Museum of History, and the former Head Curator of the MacKenzie Art Gallery. She was the Paul D. Fleck Fellow at the Banff Centre, where she coordinated the first Indigenous residency and an international symposium. She also served as the Coordinator for the Task Force on Museums and First Peoples, and she was the First Peoples Equity Coordinator at the Canada Council for the Arts. She now lives in Carp, Ontario

Lee-Ann has curated various projects that have been presented across Canada and toured abroad, including the 2018 national billboard exhibition Resilience, and the foundational 1992 exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, INDIGENA: Perspectives of Indigenous People on 500 Years. Her writing has been published by the National Gallery of Canada, Oxford University Press, University of Washington Press, Banff Centre Press, the National Museum of the American Indian, and Douglas & McIntyre.

Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award

  • Stephen Andrews, Visual Artist (Toronto, Ontario)

“For several decades, Stephen Andrews has grappled with the fragile state of our world with inventiveness and commitment. The effects of AIDS, escalating warfare and surveillance, and the de-centered world of global capitalism have made an indelible mark upon his work.”

— Jessica Bradley, Independent Curator, and Marnie Fleming, Curator Emerita, Oakville Galleries (nominators)

  • Marlene Creates, Visual Artist (Portugal Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador)

“Marlene Creates proceeds like a quintessential phenomenologist . . . her work has depended on a condition of acute receptivity—a kind of porousness—in which she opens herself to a place, a situation, a set of circumstances...”

— Susan Gibson Garvey, Curator

  • COZIC (Yvon Cozic and Monic Brassard), Visual Artist (Sainte-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, Quebec)

“Through its original approach and unwavering engagement, and its unfaltering openness to post-modern practices and broader international trends, COZIC has proven that it belongs in that fortunate set of artists who have left a mark.”

— Gilles Lapointe**,** Associate Professor, UQAM Art History Department

  • Ali Kazimi, Filmmaker and Media Artist (Toronto, Ontario)

“His larger project of elucidating the often-underexposed histories and experiences of racialized peoples, and exploring complex intersections of colonialism, racism, and immigration through the moving image, has significantly contributed to Canadian cinema and video art.”

— Karen Tisch, Arts Consultant and Executive Director of the Koffler Centre of the Arts (nominator)

  • Andrew James Paterson, Media Artist (Toronto, Ontario)

“Drawing on many references, including literature, philosophy, queer aesthetics, performance art, and music, the media art practice of Andrew James Paterson has developed in just over nearly 40 years into a complex body of work that defies singular categorization.”

— Scott Miller Berry, Managing Director, Workman Arts, former Executive Director of the Images Festival, and Filmmaker

  • Jeff Thomas, Photo-based Storyteller and Photographer (Ottawa, Ontario)

“His intelligence, generosity and integrity underpin and inform every aspect of his art, which he uses to make sense of and improve the world. Jeff’s work has changed how we see the world and given us intellectual tools for critical agency that we cannot afford to be without.”

— Dr. Richard Hill, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Studies, Emily Carr University of Art & Design

Composition of the peer assessment committees for 2019

Saidye Bronfman Award

  • Corrine Hunt, Visual Artist and Jeweller (Tsakis, British Columbia)
  • Denis Longchamps, Director General, Curator and Critic (Hamilton, Ontario)
  • Marcel Marois, Tapestry Weaver (Québec, Quebec)
  • Alexandra McCurdy, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts Member, Ceramics Artist (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Artistic contribution and Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award

  • Colleen Cutschall, Visual Artist and Professor Emerita (Eden, Manitoba)
  • Andrea Fatona, Curator and Associate Professor (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Michael Fernandes, Visual Artist (East Dover, Nova Scotia)
  • Carlos Ferrand, Filmmaker (Montréal, Quebec)
  • Isabelle Hayeur, Independent Media Artist and Photographer (Rawdon, Quebec)
  • Kevin Schmidt, Visual Artist (Kelowna/Heffley Creek, British Columbia)

Important dates

  • March 28 (10:30 a.m.) – Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will present the awards and medallions at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.
  • March 28 (5:30 p.m.) – The public viewing of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts exhibition, showing some of the winners’ selected works, will be held in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa. The exhibition will be on display at the Gallery until August 5, 2019. Curators: Adam Welch, Associate Curator, Canadian Art, Nicole Burisch, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art, Jasmine Inglis, Curatorial Assistant, Indigenous Art.

Saidye Bronfman Award

The Saidye Bronfman Award is the highest distinction in Canadian fine craft artistry. Created in 1977 by the Bronfman family, the prize is awarded annually to an exceptional fine craft artist. Every year, the Canadian Museum of Historyacquires one of the award winner’s works.

Outstanding Contribution

The Outstanding Contribution Award is given to artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts (including architecture and photography), the media arts and fine craft, in a volunteer or professional capacity.

Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award

The Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award is given to artists in recognition of their body of work and their contribution to visual arts (including architecture and photography), the media arts and contemporary practices in the field.

Short films

You can now watch the original short films focussing on each of the winners. Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts in partnership with the Independent Media Arts Alliance and created by Canadian directors, the short films are available online and can also be enjoyed on VIA Rail’s On-Train Entertainment system throughout the year and on Air Canada flights in the spring.

About the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.

The Council promotes and financially supports artistic excellence by offering Canadian professional artists and artistic organizations a broad range of grants, services, prizes and fees. Its work ensures that excellent, vibrant and diverse art and literature engages Canadians, enriches their communities and reaches markets around the world. The Council also raises public awareness and appreciation of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities.

The Council operates the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes UNESCO’s values and programs in Canada, in order to contribute to a future of peace, equity and sustainable development. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.

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