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News / March 5, 2020

Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Canadian Art Writing Prize

The national art-writing prize is designed to encourage new writers on contemporary art
2019 Canadian Art Writing Prize winner, Mercedes Webb. Photo: Christopher Donovan. 2019 Canadian Art Writing Prize winner, Mercedes Webb. Photo: Christopher Donovan.
2019 Canadian Art Writing Prize winner, Mercedes Webb. Photo: Christopher Donovan. 2019 Canadian Art Writing Prize winner, Mercedes Webb. Photo: Christopher Donovan.

Mercedes Webb is the first-place winner of the 2019 Canadian Art Writing Prize. Webb, whose entry looked at the work of artist Ts̱ēmā Igharas, will be commissioned to write a feature story for a future issue of Canadian Art, and will also receive a $3,000 award.

The two runners-up for the 2019 prize are emerging artist and writer Anj Fermor, and curator and writer Missy LeBlanc. Each will receive a $1,000 award and will be commissioned to write a feature story for

The Canadian Art Writing Prize, now in its 10th year, is an annual juried prize designed to encourage new writers on contemporary art. For eligibility, writers must be 18 years of age or older and cannot have published more than three pieces in national or international magazines. This year’s submissions were reviewed by a jury consisting of curator and writer Nasrin Himada, writer and artist Sam Cotter and Canadian Art managing editor Tess Edmonson.

The jurors supplied these comments on the winner and runners-up:

“Through rigorous research and astute prose, Mercedes Webb’s conceptualization of Ts̱ēmā Igharas’s practice and its teachings of potlatch methodology expresses art’s transformative effects—its impact on how we might approach our relations to land and material considering the harmful practices of extractive industries. By taking up the tensions that Igharas’s work confronts in the exhibition ‘Black Gold,’ Webb brings attention to how artmaking and production, through both process and result, can be acts of revitalization, decolonization and care. Reading Webb’s piece reminded me of art writing and its powers: that it can be informative, generative, thoughtful and contextual. Webb lets us sit with the questions and possibilities that art inspires.”  —Nasrin Himada

“Anj Fermor’s writing on the artwork and collaborative methodology of Kasie Campbell and Ginette Lund stood out to the jury for being at once generous, critical, insightful and accessible. Fermor’s writing style has a sense of urgency—they draw from their own life, critical theory and contemporary art history to both queer and complicate ideas of femininity in craft-based practices, and find potency in the intimacy, kinship and individualized dysphoria that coexist in familial relationships.”  —Sam Cotter

“Missy LeBlanc’s writing offers a lucid analysis that tethers exhibition-making to history. Evidencing a deep engagement with the critical discourses of contemporary art and decolonization, her review of Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal’s project Mekinawin, to give a gift is compelling and expansive.”  —Tess Edmonson

Mercedes Webb (Malidi Hanuse) is a writer and art historian of Haida, Kwakwaka’wakw and mixed settler background. Webb lives and works as a guest on Treaty 7 Territory, in Mohkínstsis (Calgary). Her writing applies Indigenous epistemologies and personal experience to the methods of contemporary art writing. She recently completed an undergraduate degree in art history and communication studies completed from the University of Calgary. Recently published writing has appeared in Frieze and Rungh. Webb is currently the outreach coordinator intern at Untitled Art Society, secretary on the board of directors for Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival Society and assistant at Herringer Kiss Gallery.

Anj Fermor. Anj Fermor.

Anj Fermor is an emerging artist and writer of English Scottish settler descent residing in on Treaty 7 Territory in Mohkinstsis (Calgary). They were a resident with the New York University Summer Studio Program in 2018, and a finalist for the 20th annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition. In the summer of 2019, they participated in the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation Residency at cSPACE King Edward and the inaugural Momus Emerging Critics Residency, held in Montreal. This summer, Fermor will travel to Florence to complete a residency with the Feminist Art Collective. Fermor is the founding publisher and writer of the new online art publication Studio, which launched in July 2019.

Missy LeBlanc. Missy LeBlanc.

Missy LeBlanc is a curator and writer of Métis, nêhiyaw and Polish descent. LeBlanc is the inaugural curatorial resident at Calgary’s TRUCK Contemporary Art and the winner of the 2019 Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators. Her recent curatorial projects include “Taskoch pipon kona kah nipa muskoseya, nepin pesim eti pimachihew | Like the winter snow kills the grass, the summer sun revives it” (2019), “Mamanaw Pekiskwewina | Mother Tongues” (2019) and “Tina Guyani | Deer Road” (2019). Her writing has appeared in Canadian Art and SNAPline. LeBlanc was born and raised in Amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton) and is currently based in Mohkínstsis (Calgary).

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Joan and Clifford Hatch Foundation and the Norman and Margaret Jewison Foundation. For more information on the Canadian Art Writing Prize and some of its past winners, visit