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News / April 6, 2016

Canadian Artists Win Guggenheim Fellowships

Fellowships, pulled from an applicant pool of 3,000, are designed to support recipients for six months to one year.
Louie Palu <em>Dust and smoke on helicopter landing zone, enemy possible, Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan</em> 2010 Pigment print 60.9 x 76.2 cm © 2012 Louie Palu Louie Palu Dust and smoke on helicopter landing zone, enemy possible, Zhari District, Kandahar, Afghanistan 2010 Pigment print 60.9 x 76.2 cm © 2012 Louie Palu

The Guggenheim Foundation announced its 2016 fellows this week in New York.

Among the winners are three Canadian artists: Deanna Bowen, who currently resides in Toronto; Louie Palu, who was born in Toronto and is currently based in Washington, DC; and George Legrady, who lived in Montreal for a time and now practices in California.

Deanna Bowen’s practice is described thusly on the Guggenheim Foundation’s website:

Deanna Bowen makes use of a repertoire of artistic gestures in order to define the Black body and trace its presence and movement in place and time. In recent years, her work has involved rigorous examination of her family lineage and their connections to the Black Prairie pioneers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Creek Negroes (Black Indians) and All-Black towns of Oklahoma, the extended Kentucky/Kansas Exoduster migrations, and the Ku Klux Klan. The artistic by-products of this research were presented most recently at the ICA at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the McMaster Museum of Art and the Art Gallery of York University. Her works and interventionist practice have garnered significant critical regard internationally. She was an invited presenter in the Creative Time Summit at La Biennale di Venezia – 56th International Art Exhibition in 2015; and her writings and art works have appeared in numerous publications including Towards an African-Canadian Art History: Art, Memory and Resistance; Black Atlantis: A Literary Archeology of the Black Prairies; North: New African Canadian Writing – West Coast Line; and Má-Ka : Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent.

Some of Bowen’s videos are viewable on YouTube, including “The Klan Comes to Town”—a re-creation of a 20-minute October 24, 1965, CBC television interview between Calvin Craig, Grand Dragon of the Georgia Realm of the United Klans of America and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; his fellow Klansman George Sleigh; civil rights activist Reverend James Bevel; and “This Hour Has Seven Days” host Robert Hoyt.

Louie Palu is an award-winning documentary photographer who is known for work which examines issues such as human rights, conflict and poverty. He is the recipient of other awards, including a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Grant and was a 2011–12 Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow with the New America Foundation.

As Palu describes on his website,

I was born in Canada to poor Italian immigrant parents. My mother was a seamstress who worked on an assembly line at a sewing machine making coats while pregnant with me. My father was a stonemason who worked in construction. My parents where born before the Second World War and grew up witnesses to the violence of the war. I grew up hearing stories of trauma and poverty in my family and was taught to always be in touch with your roots. This became the basis of all my choices of subject matter as a documentary photographer. I believe that what I do is not a career, but a way of life and belief system. Consequently, I feel as though my role in the world as a photographer is to monitor power and document social political issues relating to human rights, poverty and conflict. I try to use the most simple of photographic approaches and equipment free of effects and gimmicks. I believe in ethically produced, straightforward, raw, unflinching images.

In 2013, Louie Palu was featured in a Canadian Art magazine profile by Noah Richler entitled “The Art of War.” To read this in-depth profile, click here.

George Legrady is known for interactive installations and digital media work. He has previously received a Creative Capital Foundation grant, (2005, 2003, 2002); the Daniel Langlois Foundation for the Arts, Science and Technology, Montreal (2000); Computer Integrated Media Awards from the Canada Council (1997, 1996, 1992); an Artslink, NEA grant, (1996), among other prizes.

According to Legrady’s website, he “was born in Budapest, immigrated to Montreal, Québec during the 1956 Hungarian uprising, moved to California in 1981 and currently has dual Canadian-American citizenship. He began his studies in classical music at Mont-Jesus-Marie in the French Canadian language. He transferred to Marymount High School, and from 1965 until 1969 was active as a rock and roll keyboard musician. He also worked at numerous jobs during this time including construction, and factory work and for a while, was a card carrying member of both the United Steelworkers’ and the Musicians’ Unions. In July 1969, he witnessed the NASA landing on the moon while working as an underground miner for INCO in Thompson, Manitoba, in the Canadian sub-arctic. He was introduced to fine arts photography by the artist Charles Gagnon and the photographer John Max during his undergraduate studies in Humanities at Loyola College.”

In total, 175 Guggenheim Fellowships were awarded “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.”

Though no specific amount of money is ascribed to each fellowship, the fellowships are intended to support the chosen professionals for a block of time ranging from six month to one year.

The successful candidates were chosen from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants in the Guggenheim Foundation’s 92nd competition.

This article was corrected on April 7, 2016, to include information about George Legrady, previously un-noted in the article.

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor based in Toronto. Her arts journalism has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications, and her creative work has been published in Prism, Room and Freefall. She can be reached via