Nova Scotia

2016 Sobey Art Award finalists announced

The National Gallery of Canada announced Wednesday that five contemporary artists from different regions in the country will contend for the $50,000 first-place prize of the 2016 Sobey Art Award.

Award was established in 1981 and recognizes artists ages 40 and under.

The National Gallery of Canada is the institution behind the Sobey Art Award, which recognizes contemporary artists under the age of 40 from across the country. (National Art Gallery of Canada)

The National Gallery of Canada has announced the five contemporary artists from different regions in the country who will contend for the 2016 Sobey Art Award. 

The finalists are: William Robinson of Halifax, Hajra Waheed of Montreal, Charles Stankievech of Toronto, Brenda Draney of Edmonton and Jeremy Shaw of Vancouver. The first-place winner gets $50,000; runner ups will each receive $10,000. 

The award was established in 1981 and recognizes artists ages 40 and under. Finalists are selected by jurors on an award selection committee. The winner will be announced at a gala in Ottawa in November. 

The work being produced in Canada these days is outstanding," said jury chair Josée Drouin-Briseboi. "The artists on the long list were all strong contenders, and it was challenging to narrow them down to these five finalists.

William Robinson

Robinson, who works with a variety of media, lives and works in Halifax. His work has involved installations, performance art, music, sound and metal objects. 

Robinson's Liberation Snare from 2014 is a mixed media installation and performance. (Lenny Mullins)

"Choosing the Atlantic finalist was particularly difficult. I was pleased, though, that William Robinson's impressive work was recognized by all of the jurors," said juror Pan Wendt. 

"His multimedia installations and sonic narratives are often ephemeral and shown at festivals. As a result, Robinson hasn't yet achieved the national recognition he deserves." 

Hajra Waheed

​Hailing from Montreal, Waheed uses collage, video, sound and sculpture. Her work explores issues of mass surveillance, migration, and political power. 

Waheed's Our Naufrage 1-10 from 2014. (Vipul Sangoi)

"Drawing on her own personal history, Hajra Waheed integrates historical and political perspectives, and with the help of archival materials, invents an imaginary story," said juror Marie-Justine Snider. 

"Like an archeologist or an archivist, she uses fragments of photos and postcards to rebuild a story in another form."

Charles Stankievech

​A founding member of the Yukon School of Visual Arts, Stankievech is from Okotoks, Alta. He is now director of visual studies in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design in Toronto. 

He uses sculptures, sound, film and installations to investigate themes of history and geopolitics. 

A piece called Distant Early Warning Project from 2009. (Charles Stankievech)

"Concerned with the transformation of the physical landscape and immaterial spaces as effected by military, industrial and colonial interests, and the history of technology, his work manifests ambitious and intensely rich essays on contemporary social and technological upheaval," said juror Barbara Fischer. 

Brenda Draney

Draney was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2013. She lives and works in Edmonton. Her oil paintings have been featured at the Power Plant in Toronto.

Brenda Draney's Tent, oil on canvas, 2013. (Sarah Fuller)

"Artist Brenda Draney takes the personal and makes it universal: her work is powerful, completely unique and without compromise. It is very exciting to see Draney's work being given a national platform; her voice deserves to be heard," said juror Naomi Potter. 

Jeremy Shaw

Shaw, also a musician, combines the mediums of film and scientific research to explore states of culture and scientific practices. His work has been featured in the Netherlands and France.

A film still taken from Quickeners, a 2014 video installation from Jeremy Shaw. (National Art Gallery of Canada)

"His compelling visual art works, largely produced in film, video, and photography, frequently draw on his interest in the psychedelic: depicting altered states of mind or similar states of reverie through which we look at the world with new eyes," said juror Jonathan Middleton.