The Canada Council for the Arts Announces the 2021 Winners of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts
Ottawa, February 23, 2021 – The Canada Council for the Arts today revealed the winners of the 2021 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. This year, eight artists are being honoured in recognition of their exceptional careers and their remarkable contribution to the visual and media arts and fine crafts.
A peer committee selected the winners, who will each receive a $25,000 prize and a special-edition bronze medallion in recognition of their excellent work. Video portraits featuring each of the artists have been created in their honour.
It is with great enthusiasm that I would like to acknowledge the inspiring work and exceptional contribution of these talented artists. We are recognizing a record number of First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists this year. This pivotal moment is a testament to the strength of art—particularly Indigenous art—in this country.
Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts
2021 Governor General’s Awards winners
Saidye Bronfman Award
- Lou Lynn, Visual Artist (Winlaw, British Columbia)
“Her work not only draws us in to admire its skillful and aesthetically pleasing facture—it makes us think about our histories as makers and about the hand, mind and body working in concert to create beautiful and functional objects that enrich our world.”
- Craft Council of British Columbia, Raine Mckay, Executive Director, and Amy Gogarty, Artist and Writer (nominators)
Outstanding Contribution Award
- Bryce Kanbara, Visual Artist and Curator (Hamilton, Ontario)
“Since 1970 he has made the visual environment of the city a culturally exciting, inviting and vibrant place to live in and be a part of.”
- Shelley Niro, Artist (nominator)
Artistic Achievement Award
- Luc Courchesne, Media Artist (Montréal, Quebec)
“His work has made him one of the key creators/inventors to have opened new avenues and blazed new trails for practices that are sure to grow in leaps and bounds as fresh generations of creators enter the field of digital art.”
- Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (PFOAC), Pierre-François Ouellette, Director (nominator)
- Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Interdisciplinary Artist (Toronto, Ontario, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
“In current times of political, cultural and environmental upheaval, the world is in desperate need of artists like Cheryl L’Hirondelle, who can help us to create new social formations and to bridge knowledges, communities and histories.”
- The O’kinādās Collective (Peter Morin, Ayumi Goto, Stephen Foster), France Trépanier, Visual Artist, Curator and Researcher, and Dr. Julie Nagam, Canada Research Chair, Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg (nominators)
- Germaine Arnaktauyok, Visual Artist (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories)
“Germaine Arnaktauyok has charted her own course and created her own unique visual language, and her lifelong interest in her own unique Inuit culture has been an inspiration to many younger artists.”
- The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Darlene Coward Wight, Curator of Inuit Art (nominator)
- Lori Blondeau, Visual Artist (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
“Blondeau remains a decisive figure in Indigenous and Canadian contemporary art. Her artwork, activism, curatorial work and pedagogy are essential, and her transformative work continues to be groundbreaking and relevant.”
- Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Nasrin Himada, Curator (nominator)
- Dempsey Bob, Artist, Sculptor (Terrace, British Columbia)
“Dempsey Bob is recognized as one of few master carvers of his Nation who is pushing the art forward, successfully blending contemporary with the traditional style of Tahltan-Tlingit sculptural art, while remaining true to its complex protocols and unique design history.”
- Jim Logan, Visual Artist (nominator)
- Bonnie Devine, Visual Artist (Toronto, Ontario)
“Devine’s art practice and research has stimulated change and inspired action. It has had a powerful impact, reverberating within the cultural community and planting seeds for much-needed healing and reconciliation.”
- Art Gallery of Peterborough, Celeste Scopelites, Director (nominator)
Composition of peer assessment committees for 2021
Saidye Bronfman Award
- Michael Hosaluk, Wood Artist (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
- Joon Hee Kim, Ceramic Artist (Oakville, Ontario)
- Marie Pierre Daigle, Textile and Glass Artist, and Executive Director of Métiers d’art Bas-Saint-Laurent (Kamouraska, Quebec)
Artistic Achievement Award and Outstanding Contribution Award
- Margaret Dragu, Performance / Installation / Video Artist (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- KC Adams, Visual and Social Practice Artist (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
- Syrus Marcus Ware, Artist, Activist and Scholar (Toronto, Ontario)
- Jeannine Gagné, Filmmaker and Producer (Saint-Calixte, Quebec)
- Nicolas Grenier, Visual Artist (Montréal, Quebec)
- David Diviney, Senior Curator, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Saidye Bronfman Award
The Saidye Bronfman Award is the highest distinction in Canadian fine craft artistry. Created in 1977 by the Bronfman family, the prize is awarded annually to an exceptional fine craft artist. Every year, the Canadian Museum of History acquires one of the award winner’s works.
The Outstanding Contribution Award is given to artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts, the media arts, or fine craft, in a volunteer or professional capacity.
Artistic Achievement Award
The Artistic Achievement Award is given to artists in recognition of their body of work. It honours their contribution to contemporary visual or media arts.
You can now watch the original video portraits featuring each of the winners. Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts in partnership with the Independent Media Arts Alliance and created by Canadian filmmakers, the shorts are available online as well as on Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment system (from May to October 2021).
About the Canada Council for the Arts
The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and supports its presence across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder.
Its grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations. This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts.
Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts.
The Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) Program makes annual payments to creators whose works are held in Canadian public libraries.
The Council’s Art Bank provides the broader public with a collection of over 17,000 Canadian contemporary art works to enjoy through its rental, loan, and dissemination programs.
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO operates under the authority of the Council. It shares a common history and future with the Council in terms of sustainable development characterized by the arts, science, culture, equality, and peace.
To book interviews with the winners:
Canada Council for the Arts
Communications and Engagement