Recognition and awards meaningful to artists

A national award competition is proving beneficial for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The gallery and the Sobey Art Foundation are working together to offer the prestigious prize for Canadian contemporary artists under the age of 40.

By Laura Hubbard

Laura Pierce incorporates both contemporary and traditional styles and mediums into her artwork. Her most recent commissioned project is an oil on canvas painting (Laura Hubbard photo).

A national award competition is proving beneficial for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

The gallery and the Sobey Art Foundation are working together to offer the prestigious prize for Canadian contemporary artists under the age of 40.

Bernard Doucet, director of development at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, is excited about the award and its ties to the gallery.

“A national level prize being here every other year brings really provocative and interesting, prize-level work into the gallery,” Doucet says. “We’re fortunate to be able to do that.”

To be eligible for nomination, artists must be working in Canada and have had their work shown in a public or commercial gallery within 18 months of the nomination period.

The Sobey Foundation was created in 2001 to recognize and encourage contemporary artists. At the time, there wasn’t a prize for them to be acknowledged in this way, Doucet says.

Laura Pierce, an artist from New Brunswick currently living in Halifax, recognizes the prestige associated with awards such as this one.

“There are lots of opportunities (for artists),” Pierce says. “There’s small galleries that are willing to take unknown artists, but at places like the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, it may be difficult if you don’t have that CV to show for. But, if you have been selected for the Sobey Award, you’re set!”

Related Sites
Sobey Art Foundation
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Laura Pierce’s work

Pierce classifies her work as contemporary with traditional subject matter.

“I do painting, photography, I’ve done print making, but I also do what people normally look at as ‘craft’,” Pierce says. “So, maybe I’d use a landscape, but do it with fiber art which is a different take on traditional.”

Pierce, a fine arts graduate of Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, has shown her unique artwork at several group and solo exhibits, including one at the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville. She has also been involved in several sales and markets, including Alderney Landing on the Dartmouth waterfront.

“It’s pretty exciting because it means that people are appreciating your work, that they see something in it that is worthwhile,” Pierce says. “We work so hard for so little, so that recognition is really meaningful.”

Last year’s Sobey Art Award winner was Daniel Barrow, from Winnipeg.

The Award winner receives $50,000. Four finalists receive $5,000 each.

Nominations for the 2011 Sobey Art Award are due April 1.

Listen as Laura Pierce offers advice for new artists looking to get recognition within their communities and gain experience with exhibiting their work:

Sobey Award – Laura Pierce – Clip