Two B.C. sculptors named 2021 Governor General Award recipients in visual arts

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      The Canada Council for the Arts announced the eight honourees of the 2021 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts today (February 23) and among them are two visual artists and sculptors based in British Columbia.

      Tahltan-Tlingit master carver and sculptor Dempsey Bob from Terrace, B.C., was named an Artistic Achievement Award recipient.

      Bob previously received the B.C. Achievement Foundation’s Fulmer Award in First Nations Arts in 2007 and he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.

      Dempsey Bob's Khoh Dene Front, 2017, yellow cedar from a private collection.
      Equinox Gallery Vancouver

      His work is featured in numerous collections around the world, including the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Museum of Ethnology in Japan. The Story of Fog Woman and Raven is displayed at the Vancouver International Airport.

      Visual artist Jim Logan, who nominated Bob, explained that Bob combines traditional and modern techniques.

      “Dempsey Bob provides leadership, support and guidance to many Northwest Coast artists studying the sculptural works of great masters from the past, while he himself brings a new meaningful variation of this world-renowned art form to a contemporary audience,” Logan stated. “He is recognized as one of few master carvers of his Nation who is pushing the art forward, successfully blending contemporary with the traditional style of Tahltan-Tlingit sculptural art, while remaining true to its complex protocols and unique design history.”

      Artist Lou Lynn
      Janet Dwyer

      Visual artist and glass sculptor Lou Lynn, from Winlaw, B.C., won the Saidye Bronfman Award, which is Canada's highest distinction in fine craft artistry.

      Lynn teaches at the Kootenay School of the Arts and has held workshops across Canada, and is the author of Marketing Guide to Fine Craft in the U.S. and Marketing Northwest Coast Native Arts and Crafts.

      She received the Gerson Award for Excellence, Innovation and Leadership from the Craft Council of British Columbia in 2006 and was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2010.

      Craft Council of British Columbia executive director Raine Mckay and artist and writer Amy Gogarty explained why they nominated Lynn.

      “Lynn’s work is characterized by extraordinary craftsmanship,as definedby her mastery ofrelevant technologies and materials,attention to all aspects of production andpresentation,a life-long interest in the tools and implements associated with the history of handcraft andmaking, and her ability to invest form with presence,” they stated.

      Lou Lynn's Enigma, 1990, cast aluminium and glass from the Corning Museum of Glass collection.
      Joel Russ

      Other Artistic Achievement Award recipients in visual arts include Inuit artist Germaine Arnaktauyok, from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; visual artist Lori Blondeau, from Winnipeg, Manitoba; and visual artist Bonnie Devine, from Toronto, Ontario.

      Artistic Achievement Award award recipients in media arts include media artist Luc Courchesne, from Montreal; and interdisciplinary artist Cheryl L'Hirondelle, from Toronto, Ontario, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

      The Outstanding Contribution Award, which recognizes artists who have made outstanding contributions to the visual arts, media arts, or fine craft, in a volunteer or professional capacity, went to visual artist and curator Bryce Kanbara, from Hamilton, Ontario.

      Each winner will receive $25,000 and a special-edition bronze medallion. Canada Council for the Arts director and CEO Simon Brault stated in a news release that this year’s awards recognize a record number of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis artists.