Sobey Award winner announced last night
The jury for the 2017 Sobey Art Award announced Ursula Johnson as the winner of Canada’s $50,000 prestigious contemporary art prize. She is the fourteenth Canadian artist under 40 to win the distinguished annual award.
The announcement was made during a gala event held Wednesday evening at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. The 37-year-old artist, who was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia and represents the Atlantic region, was presented with the award by last year’s winner, Jeremy Shaw (West Coast and Yukon).
On receiving the award, Ursula Johnson said:
“I am so grateful for winning this award! I have so much gratitude to have been selected to represent my region and to be in the company of such brilliant artists who are working in amazing ways! This gift of being the winner of the Sobey Art Award means that I will now have the tremendous opportunity to work on a larger scale and expand the reach of my work to a broader community while exploring more diversity in materials and content as well as beginning to create a network of collaborators internationally!”
For the first time in the history of the Sobey Art Award, 2017 saw women and Indigenous artists dominate the shortlist. The five finalists’ extraordinary works both challenged and impressed the jury. The selection committee was chaired by Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada.
The selection committee issued the following statement on Ursula Johnson’s remarkable achievement:
“Ursula Johnson was singled out for her strong voice, her generosity and collaborative spirit. Through her work, she redefines traditional materials and re-imagines colonized histories.
Five artists, representing different regions across Canada, are shortlisted for the award, which was increased in 2017 by the Sobey Art Foundation to a total of $110,000 in prize money. $50,000 is awarded to the winner, each of the four finalists receive $10,000, and the longlisted artists win $1,000 each. Works by the five finalists are presented in an exhibition, held this year at the Art Museum of the University of Toronto from 24 October to 9 December 2017.