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News / October 1, 2020

Ashley Raghubir Wins 2020 Canadian Art Writing Prize

Runners-up this year are Hana Nikčević and Alexa Bunnell
Ashley Raghubir. Photo: Monse Muro. Ashley Raghubir. Photo: Monse Muro.
Ashley Raghubir. Photo: Monse Muro. Ashley Raghubir. Photo: Monse Muro.

Canadian Art is pleased to announce Ashley Raghubir as the first-place winner of the 2020 Canadian Art Writing Prize. Raghubir, whose entry looked at the work of artist Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, 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 2020 prize are writer and art historian Hana Nikčević and emerging artist and writer Alexa Bunnell. Each will receive a $1,000 award and be commissioned to write a feature story for

The Canadian Art Writing Prize, now in its 11th 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 artist and writer Gelare Khoshgozaran; author of The Baudelaire Fractal Lisa Robertson; and Canadian Art senior editor-at-large Yaniya Lee.

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

“Ashley Raghubir’s writing departs from the blue of painting to navigate water and air through their material and symbolic connections to Black diaspora breath. Framing Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s new and recent paintings as ‘a representation of thrivance,’ Raghubir posits care and protection as constants that define the past and future of Black diaspora life and kinship.” —Gelare Khoshgozaran

“Alexa Bunnell’s immediately engaging style shows the radical potential of fermentation. In a personal and playful tone, they discuss a set of collaborative works that encompass ‘modes of care that exist out of (hetero)normative time and capitalistic extractive designations of life.’ The text moves easily through multiple contexts, and imparts the urgency of different forms of queer solidarity.” —Yaniya Lee

“In prose at once sensual and precise, Nikčević’s text on Rebecca Belmore’s Biinjiya’iing Onji (From Inside) strongly commits itself to a nuanced presentation of the political, geological and cosmological contexts and repercussions of Belmore’s sculpture. This is writing that engages directly with the injustices of the present political economy for migrants, Indigenous peoples and refugees by mounting a clear, historical analysis, while insisting on the continuing urgency of acts of aesthetic resistance and refiguring.” —Lisa Robertson

Alexa Bunnell. Alexa Bunnell.
Hana Nikčević. Hana Nikčević.

Ashley Raghubir is a Trinidadian Canadian writer and master’s student in the art history program at Concordia University in Montreal. She is a co-founding member of the Afrofuturisms Research Collective with student and faculty peers at Concordia. Her writing practice and interdisciplinary research examines Afrofuturisms in contemporary art, Black diaspora studies, Black Canadian contemporary art and transatlantic slavery studies.

Alexa Bunnell is a queer-identifying emerging artist and writer of settler descent, currently living and working in Mohkinstsís (Calgary). Their artistic and research-based work takes into account queer considerations of radical botany and restorative futures, envisioning encounters against colonial understandings and designations of ecologies. Within their artistic work you may find flowers, songs, fishing nets, desire, mirrors, beets and leather gear. They have recently received their undergraduate degree from the Alberta University of the Arts, in 2019. Their writing has appeared in LUMA Quarterly and Canadian Art. They have participated in the White Rabbit Residency along with the Hear/d Residency and recently presented their work at The New Gallery, Femme Wave Festival and the Marion Nicoll Main Space Gallery.

Hana Nikčević is a writer and art historian. An immigrant from Serbia, she is based in K’jipuktuk/Halifax, in Mi’kma’ki. She is currently pursuing an MA in art history at McGill University, where her research focuses on the intersections of art, science and technology in the context of ecological crisis. She is the assistant registrar at the StFX University Art Gallery (Antigonish), a research assistant at McGill and a freelance editor. She has previously held positions at the Dalhousie University Art Gallery and Barbara Edwards Contemporary. Her writing has been published in The Strand and Refract.

For more information on the Canadian Art Writing Prize and some of its past winners, visit

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Joan and Clifford Hatch Foundation and the Norman and Margaret Jewison Foundation.