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Dartmouth's Ursula Johnson wins $50,000 Sobey Art Award

Ursula Johnson
Ursula Johnson

Ursula Johnson, a 37-year-old Dartmouth-based artist, has won the 2017 Sobey Art Award.

The Canadian contemporary art prize is worth $50,000.

The announcement was made Wednesday evening at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto.

Johnson, who was born in Sydney, is the 14th Canadian artist under 40 to win the annual award.

The multi-disciplinary artist of Mi’kmaw First Nation ancestry was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award twice before. She has participated in more than 30 group exhibits and five solo exhibitions. Using a variety of media, including sculpture, performance, printmaking and music, Johnson uses performers and collaborative processes in her art, according to a news release.

For the first time in the history of the Sobey Art Award, women and Indigenous artists dominated the short list this year.

Five artists, representing different regions across Canada, are shortlisted for the award. Prize money from the Sobey Art Foundation was increased this year to a total of $110,000: $50,000 for the winner, $10,000 for each of the four other finalists and $1,000 each for longlisted artists.

Works by the finalists are presented in an exhibition being held this year at the Art Museum of the University of Toronto through Dec. 9.

The other finalists this year were Raymond Boisjoly (West Coast and the Yukon), Jacynthe Carrier (Quebec), Divya Mehra (Prairies and the North) and Bridget Moser (Ontario).

The first Sobey Art Award was presented in 2002. Past winners include Abbas Akhavan, David Altmejd, Daniel Barrow, Michel de Broin, Raphaëlle de Groot, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Tim Lee, Duane Linklater, Nadia Myre, Annie Pootoogook, Jeremy Shaw and Daniel Young & Christian Giroux.

In 2016, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa became the organizing institution for the Sobey Art Award. Building on the work of the award’s founding partner institution, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the current partnership is intended to foster and celebrate excellence in contemporary Canadian art.

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