On October 5, Premier Kathleen Wynne honoured the winners of the 10th annual Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts at an event at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The awards program recognizes outstanding artists and arts organizations for their contributions to Ontario’s vibrant arts and culture sector. This year, two of the three winners are Indigenous artists from Northern Ontario.
Christi Belcourt, a Métis visual artist from Espanola, won the Individual Artist Award. Like generations of Indigenous artists before her, Belcourt’s work celebrates the beauty of the natural world while exploring its symbolic properties. Her work is part of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery’s permanent collection and was featured in a 2010 solo exhibition titled Identity, Land & Spirit. Belcourt is also the project creator of Walking With Our Sisters—a crowd-sourced commemorative art installation for the missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada and the United States.
Christian Chapman, an Anishinaabe visual artist and filmmaker from Fort William First Nation, was honoured as Emerging Artist of the Year. His two-dimensional mixed-media artwork fuses elements of computer-manipulated images, painting, drawing and printmaking. (see our August 2015 story about Chapman’s journey of storytelling through film and our August 2010 profile)
The Premier’s Awards are administered by the Ontario Arts Council. The winning artist, who is selected by a jury, receives a $35,000 prize and selects an emerging artist who receives a $15,000 prize. “The winners of this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts exemplify the talent, passion and vitality that Ontario’s arts community is known for. Congratulations on this well-deserved honour, and thank you for all you do to inspire us, challenge us and bring beauty to our lives,” said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Nominations for the 2017 awards are being accepted until December 1, 2016. All Ontarians are invited to submit a nomination.