Skip to content

May we suggest

News / November 19, 2014

Nadia Myre Wins $50K Sobey Art Award

Montreal-based Algonquin artist known for using small media to make a big impact wins $50,000 first place spot in one of Canada's leading art prizes.

Nadia Myre—a Quebec-based Algonquin artist known for using small, craft-based media to make a big aesthetic and political impact—has won the $50,000 first place prize at this year’s Sobey Art Award.

The award win was announced this evening at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, where an exhibition of the Sobey Award finalists continues until January 11, 2015.

The other finalists for this year’s prize included Neil Farber and Michael Dumontier of Winnipeg; Evan Lee of Vancouver; Chris Curreri of Toronto; and Graeme Patterson of Sackville. Each of the finalists receives $10,000 in prize money as well.

“Myre has built a distinctive visual vocabulary by translating her experience and that of others into works that employ traditional crafts within a contemporary, multidisciplinary practice,” the prize jury said in a release. “Her artwork creates a symbolic image of wounding and resilience that conveys something deeply human while addressing urgent social concerns.”

Born in 1974 in Montreal, Myre is known for work that addresses identity, language, longing and loss—often conveyed through media related to traditional Aboriginal beadwork or stitchery.

The title of Myre’s 2013 work For those who cannot speak: the land, the water, the animals and the future generations, for instance, was inspired by a declaration read by Algonquin kokoms (grandmothers) on Parliament Hill on January 11, 2013. The piece consisted of a long black-and-white beaded belt—one somewhat reminiscent of the wampum belt form—that was blown up photographically to 23 metres long for the National Gallery of Canada’s recent indigenous art survey “Sakahàn.”

Another notable Myre work is Indian Act (2000–2003), which covered all 56 pages of the titular Canadian legislation with red and white beads—white beads replaced the words of the act, while the red beads replaced the negative space. The project also had a collaborative aspect, with more than 200 friends, colleagues and strangers pitching in to complete the beading on the project.

Collaboration and group process also comes to the fore in Myre’s Scar Project, which commenced in 2005. In this project, viewers and members of the public are invited to sew, on canvas, representations of their own physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual scars. Participants were also encouraged to share and record related stories, with more than 800 scars and stories collected in the course of the project.

A graduate of Camosun College (1995), Emily Carr (1997), and Concordia University (MFA, 2002), Myre is included in “Formes et Paroles” at the Musée Dapper in Paris, the 2014 Shanghai Biennale and “Before and After the Horizon: Anishinabe Artists of the Great Lakes” at the Art Gallery of Ontario

The 2014 Sobey Art Award decision was made by a panel consisting of Surrey Art Gallery curator Jordan Strom; Winnipeg curator and artist Paul Butler; Art Gallery of Windsor curator of contemporary art Srimoyee Mitra; Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal curator of contemporary Quebec and Canadian art Marie-Eve Beaupré; and Confederation Centre Art Gallery curator Pan Wendt.

The Sobey is an annual prize given to an artist of age 40 or under who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. Previous winners include Duane Linklater (2013), David Altmejd (2009) and Brian Jungen (2002).

Since the inception of the Sobey Art Award in 2002, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia has organized and administered both the award and its accompanying exhibition. Every other year, the award is exhibited at a Canadian gallery or museum outside of Halifax.