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Demorestville artist receives Premier’s Award of Excellence

Kent Monkman, of Demorestville, has received a Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts at a ceremony this week – honouring extraordinary achievement.

Premier Kathleen Wynne honoured exceptional contributions by 11 artists and arts organizations from across Ontario at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto. Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, announced the winners.

Artists and organizations working in publishing, dance, theatre, music, craft, visual arts, media arts, literature and multidisciplinary arts are eligible for these awards.

Kent Monkman, a painter, sculptor, filmmaker and performer of Cree ancestry, won the Individual Arts Award. His work, which often challenges myths and narratives, has been featured in exhibitions across North America and internationally. Recent projects include Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, a large touring exhibition commissioned for Canada 150.

Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works with a variety of media, including painting, film/video, performance and installation. He has held solo exhibitions at museums such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. In addition, Kent’s work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Denver Art Museum, Museum London, the Glenbow Museum, the MacKenzie Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

“Art challenges us and inspires us to think beyond our experience — and even beyond what seems possible. I am honoured to recognize the winners and finalists in this year’s Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts for their outstanding contributions to our vibrant cultural life in Ontario,” said Premier Wynne. “The work you do educates and provokes us. Art in every form shows us new perspectives and provides opportunities to bring communities together. Thank you for everything you do to make Ontario a richer, more interesting place for us all.”

The Emerging Artist of the Year Award went to Brian Rideout, a visual artist working in representational painting. His work investigates contemporary images, sourced from print and online, for their historical and artistic relevance.

Debajehmujig Storytellers won in the Arts Organization category. Debajehmujig Storytellers is one of Canada’s foremost Indigenous creation companies and the country’s first, and only, professional theatre company located on a reserve. The company shares the Anishinaabek language, culture and heritage with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people through original creative expression.

The Premier’s Awards program is administered by the Ontario Arts Council. Winners are selected by a jury of artists and arts professionals.
The winning artist receives $35,000 and also selects an emerging artist, who receives $15,000. The winning arts organization receives $50,000, and the finalists in each category receive $2,000.

“We are delighted to recognize Kent Monkman, Debajehmujig Storytellers and Brian Rideout as this year’s laureates,” said Rita Davies, chair of the Ontario Arts Council. “Each of them offers a distinctive vision of how the arts can influence our lives and society — by reimaging history, developing community and exploring representation. Congratulations to the three laureates, and all of the 2017 finalists.”

“The passion you bring to your work inspires us and fuels the extraordinary cultural life of our communities. Artistic expression encourages thought, sparks creativity and challenges us to look at things differently,” said McMahon. “It’s my hope that these awards will shine a spotlight on the wonderful work that the talented laureates and finalists do. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the many positive benefits that the arts can bring to our lives.”

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  1. Shelley Jones-Egan says:

    Congratulations! Fabulous work! Honoured to have you in The County!

  2. My congratulations to Kent as well. He has his huge studio on the property beside us and is a regular sight on the jogging trail we maintain together around his fields. He is a wonderful neighbour when he is here from his Toronto home.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    Congratulations to Kent Monkman! What a wonderful thing to happen to a county resident – and what an honour to be recognized for such a talent.

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