Shortlist announced for 2017 Sobey Art Award

Detail from Parade by Jacynthe Carrier, one of five artists on the shortlist for the 2017 Sobey Art Award.

Four women and one man are on the shortlist for the $110,000 2017 Sobey Art Award. The winner, who will receive $50,000, will be selected from a group of young contemporary artists, each representing a region of Canada. The shortlist includes:

Ursula Johnson

Atlantic: Ursula Johnson (Dartmouth, N.S.) is a Mi’kmaw performance and installation artist. Her work seeks to “interrogate outdated ethnographic and anthropological approaches to understanding Indigenous cultural practices.”

Jacynthe Carrier

Québec: Jacynthe Carrier (Québec City). She uses photography and video “to create contemporary allegories that reimagine relationships between individuals and communities and the land they inhabit.”

Bridget Moser

Ontario: Bridget Moser (Toronto). She is a performance and video artist “whose spoken monologues draw from prop comedy, experimental theatre, absurd literature and intuitive dance.”

Divya Mehra

The Prairies and the North: Divya Mehra (Winnipeg). She “creates satirical work that questions the effects of colonization and racism and the construct of ‘diversity.'”

Raymond Boisjoly

The West Coast and the Yukon: Raymond Boisjoly (Vancouver). He is an Indigenous artist of Haida descent “whose photographic and text-based works reference pop culture to rethink representations of indigeneity.”

Excavata by Ursula Johnson

The National Gallery of Canada’s Josée Drouin-Brisebois, the senior curator of Contemporary Art, chaired a selection committee of six jurors including Sarah Fillmore, chief curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Atlantic); Claude Bélanger, general and artistic director, Manif d’art de Québec (Québec); Sarah Robayo Sheridan, curator of the Art Museum at the University of Toronto (Ontario); Jenifer Papararo, executive director at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art (Prairies and the North); Reid Shier, director and curator of the Presentation House Gallery (West Coast and the Yukon) and Adam Budak, chief curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic. And for the second time the committee has an international member, Nicolaus Schafhausen, the artistic director at the Kunsthalle, in Vienna, Austria He also participated in 2016.

Without You I’m Nothing: Eating the Other by Divya Mehra

An exhibition of the shortlisted artists’ work is organized at a guest art institution in odd years and at the National Gallery of Canada in even years. In 2017, the work of the five shortlisted artists’ will be exhibited at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto from Oct. 24 to Dec. 9.

From the production Freak on a Leash by Bridget Moser.

The organizers also announced an increase in the total prize money awarded to participating artists. A total of $110,000 will be distributed in 2017: $50,000 to the winner, $10,000 to the four other shortlisted artists, and $1,000 for each long listed artist. The Sobey Art Award, created by the Sobey Art Foundation in 2002, is presented to a Canadian artist aged 40 and under who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. The winner will be announced on Oct. 25 at a gala at the Hart House Great Hall at the University of Toronto.

Additional information about the 2017 nominees and jurors is available at

Over a Distance Between One and Many by Raymond Boisjoly.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.