Vancouver artist Brian Jungen, who illustrates the clash between consumer and indigenous cultures with his aboriginal-style sculptures made from lawn chairs and golf bags, has won the 2010 Gershon Iskowitz Prize.
The $25,000 prize, awarded by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Iskowitz Foundation, is given annually to an active mature Canadian artist.
Jungen, 38, born in Fort St. John, B.C., and a member of the Doig River Band of the Dunne-za First Nations, draws on the "found art" tradition of creating art works from everyday items.
He assembled his Prototypes of New Understanding (1998-2005), a series of West Coast-style masks in traditional Haida colours, from parts of Nike Air Jordan sneakers. Dubbed a "wizardly craftsman" by New York Times art critic Grace Glueck, Jungen fashioned shoe tongues into curled ears and reinforced toes into chins.
"I wanted to address commercialism and the fetishization of trainers and aboriginal art," Jungen told CBC News in 2005.
"I also wanted to address the division of labour, the production of goods and the relationship between the First and Third Worlds. There is a developing world within the First World on First Nations reserves."
His other works include Shapeshifter (2000), Cetology (2002) and Vienna (2003), three full-size whale skeletons made from pieces of white plastic lawn furniture, as well as1960, 1970 and 1980 (2007), three four-metre-high totem poles made from brand-name golf bags.
Jungen graduated from Vancouver's Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 1992, and has exhibited in Canada and internationally. The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., is currently staging a major retrospective of his work.
Iskowitz Prize officials say Jungen's work is infused "with sociopolitical commentary, historic symbology and an ingenious sense of play."
The Iskowitz Prize was established in 1985 by the late Canadian painter Gershon Iskowitz to raise the profile of the visual arts in Canada.