Simone Elizabeth Saunders Wins BMO 1st! Art Prize – Canadian Art
Skip to content
News / October 6, 2020

Simone Elizabeth Saunders Wins BMO 1st! Art Prize

Alberta University of the Arts graduate wins $15,000 national prize in competition for emerging artists with Black Lives Matter textile work
Simone Elizabeth Saunders, <em>It Matters</em>. Photo: CNW Group/BMO Financial Group. Simone Elizabeth Saunders, It Matters. Photo: CNW Group/BMO Financial Group.
Simone Elizabeth Saunders, <em>It Matters</em>. Photo: CNW Group/BMO Financial Group. Simone Elizabeth Saunders, It Matters. Photo: CNW Group/BMO Financial Group.

Simone Elizabeth Saunders won the national prize in this year’s BMO 1st Art!, a competition for post-secondary art students across Canada.

Saunders, a recent graduate of the Alberta University of the Arts, was recognized for It Matters, a work she described in a release as “a hand-tufted textile portrait of a Black civilian in western society during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Saunders continued: “This colourful patchwork focuses on the quality and importance of Black life (matters) in a time where the pandemic has eradicated social normativity, further isolating marginalized communities and resulting in amplified racial biases toward Black and Brown people.”

Saunders received $15,000 as the national winner.

Twelve regional winners were named as follows:

Alberta: Jasmine MacGregor of Alberta University of the Arts
British Columbia: David Ezra Wang of University of British Columbia
Manitoba: Gabriel Roberts of the University of Manitoba
New Brunswick: Matthew Cripps of the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design
Newfoundland and Labrador: Kathleen Elliott of Memorial University
Nova Scotia: Alex Sutcliffe of NSCAD University
Nunavut: Ellie Tungilik of Nunavut Arctic College
Ontario: Tian Cao of OCAD University
Prince Edward Island: Duncan Brooks of Holland College
Quebec: Mikael Lepage of Université du Québec à Montréal
Saskatchewan: Rey Francis Dominic B. Tatad of the University of Regina
Yukon: Nicole Favron of Yukon School of Visual Arts

Each regional winner received $7,500.

Each year, BMO 1st Art! invites deans and instructors from 110 undergraduate art programs across Canada to nominate three students from each of their studio specialties to submit a recent work. A selection committee then reviews the submissions.

The selection committee this year consisted of Melanie Colosimo, director/curator, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Nova Scotia; Francisco-Fernando Granados, faculty, OCAD University, Ontario; Marie-Eve Beaupré, curator, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Quebec; and cheyanne turions, curator, SFU Galleries, British Columbia.

A virtual exhibition featuring all of this year’s recognized works is at artmuseum.utoronto.ca until October 16.