2018 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts Winners Announced

February 20, 2018

Ottawa, February 20, 2018– The Canada Council for the Arts announced today the winners of the 2018 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, the $25,000 cash prize includes categories for artistic achievement in visual and media arts, fine craft and outstanding contribution.

Established creators and ground-breaking visionaries, these esteemed winners selected by a committee of their peers provoke, question and investigate the nature of humanity. Their remarkable careers continue to impact the ever changing landscape of visual and media arts in this country.

"The remarkable careers and works of the artists being honoured today deserve to be known and shared. These artists have explored new territories by drawing on their own experience, by thinking about issues of concern to their communities, and by rejecting stifling conventions. Their works continue to change our perception of the world, and remind us that it is artistic creation that demonstrates our humanity."

Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts

The 2018 winners are:


Glenn Alteen, curator, director, Vancouver (Outstanding Contribution Award)

“Glenn Alteen has spent his career building a community through the consistent, respectful and ethical inclusion of artists, curators and cultural workers from diverse backgrounds. He has insisted on establishing – in grunt gallery – an artist-run centre that is more about artists than objects.” - Lorna Brown, artist, curator and writer based in Vancouver (nominator)

Bruce Eves, visual artist, Toronto

“Bruce Eves has a restless mind. His commitment to the rigor of historical research – whether art history, gay history, or his own personal history – has been at the core of his work across his 40-year career.” - Lily Eng, performance artist (nominator)

Wyn Geleynse, media artist, London, Ont.

“Wyn Geleynse’s practice is one of a restless tinkerer, someone who is endlessly experimenting with techniques both ancient and on the leading edge of the latest technology….” - Paul Walde (University of Victoria) and Andrew Wright (University of Ottawa), artists, associate professors (co-nominators)

Spring Hurlbut, visual artist, Toronto

“Spring Hurlbut’s contemplative and eloquent works unsentimentally address mortality and our inevitable destiny in death. Her dedication to a subject so commonly avoided in contemporary Western culture is singular and courageous.” - Jessica Bradley, curator (nominator)

Midi Onodera, media artist, Toronto

“Midi Onodera gained critical acclaim very early in her career with two remarkable films: Ten Cents a Dance (Parallax) (1985) and The Displaced View (1989) which launched her reputation as a thoughtful, daring filmmaker at a time when there was very little diversity in Canadian art.” - Tanya Mars, performance artist and GGArts winner (2008) (nominator)

Sandra Semchuk, photographer, Vancouver

Semchuk’s “take on photography as collaborative project is a vital contribution to the medium – not as an imposition of a will but as a way of working towards an understanding of a problem. She asks the viewer to enter that process of self-examination with her.” - Andrea Kunard, curator

“Sandra Semchuk’s work reminds us of the necessity to continually rethink our positions as artists, as speaking subjects, as listeners.” - Althea Thauberger, artist (nominator)

Adrian Stimson, visual and performance artist, Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation in Alberta

"In Stimson’s work he often will use real materials like buffalo hide or the remnants of the actual residential school that he attended in order to ground his camp aesthetic in an actual experience or material reality. This is what marks his difference from other postmodern aesthetics and why his work has to oscillate between mourning and mayhem.” - Wanda Nanibush, curator, Indigenous Art, Indigenous + Canadian Art Department, Art Gallery of Ontario (Nominated by Tomas Jonsson, visual artist, writer, cultural organizer)

Jack Sures, ceramic artist, Regina, Sask. (Saidye Bronfman Award)

“Over the past six decades, Jack Sures has displayed enormous creativity, innovation and technical mastery in Canadian craft... ... He has greatly influenced Canadian ceramics through his development of and longstanding involvement with the University of Regina's Ceramics Program, his pedagogical practice and his conceptual engagement with the vessel.” - Julia Krueger, craft researcher, writer and curator (nominator)

The 2018 peer assessment committees are:


Artistic Achievement and Outstanding Contribution categories:

  • Philip Hoffman, filmmaker, educator (Mount Forest, Ont.)
  • John Murchie, visual artist, curator (Sackville, N.B.)
  • Nadia Myre, media/visual artist (Montreal)
  • Louise Noguchi, visual artist (Toronto)
  • Cate Rimmer, gallery director/curator (Vancouver)

Saidye Bronfman Award

  • Elyse De Lafontaine, textile artist, instructor (Montreal)
  • Virginia Eichhorn, gallery director/chief curator (Owen Sound, Ont.)
  • Charles Lewton-Brain, goldsmith, associate professor (Calgary)

Important dates:

  • Wednesday, March 28 at 6:00pm -The awards ceremony and a presentation of the medallions by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada will take place at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
  • Thursday, March 29 at 5:30pm - A public opening reception for an exhibition featuring selected works by this year’s winners, organized in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The exhibition runs until August 5, 2018. Exhibition curator: Rhiannon Vogl, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada

About the Saidye Bronfman Award

The Saidye Bronfman Award is Canada’s foremost distinction for excellence in fine crafts. Created in 1977 by the Bronfman family to honor their mother on her 80th birthday, the prize is awarded annually to an exceptional fine craft artist. In addition, works by the winners are acquired by the Canadian Museum of History for its permanent collection.

About the Outstanding Contribution Award

The Outstanding Contribution Award is given to an individual or a group of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts (including architecture and photography), the media arts or fine craft, in a volunteer or professional capacity.

Watch original short films on each of the winners, commissioned by the Canada Council in partnership with the Independent Media Arts Alliance and directed by Canadian filmmakers, available online now on VIA Rail’s in-train entertainment throughout the year and on Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment system, this spring.

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About Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national public arts funder. We champion and invest in artistic excellence so that Canadians may enjoy and participate in a rich cultural life. In 2016-17 we allocated $196.8 million dollars towards artistic creation and innovation through our grants, prizes and payments. We also conduct research, convene activities and work with partners to advance the sector and help embed the arts more deeply in communities across the country. We are responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable future for Canadians. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.

Media Contacts

Canada Council for the Arts:

Mireille Allaire

Manager, Community and Digital Engagement​

150 Elgin St. P.O. Box 1047

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5V8

E-mail: Mireille.Allaire@canadacouncil.ca

613-566-4414, ext. 5151

Toll free: 1-800-263-5533, ext. 5151

Cell: 613-295-3208

TTY: 1-866-585-5559

To arrange interviews with the winners:

Charlene Coy

C2C Communications

E-mail: charlene@c2ccommunications.com

416-451-1471

To attend the media preview at the National Gallery of Canada on Wednesday, March 28 at 10 am:

Josée-Britanie Mallet

National Gallery of Canada

E-mail: BMallet@gallery.ca

613-990-6835

To attend the Rideau Hall Ceremony on March 28 at 6:00pm: 

Josephine Laframboise

Rideau Hall Press Office

E-mail: Josephine.Laframboise@gg.ca

613-990-9324

Cell: 613-668-1929