OTTAWA, CANADA.- The recipients of the 2007 Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Awards are Vancouver artist Ken Lum and Montreal gallery director and curator Louise Déry. The $25,000 prize for outstanding achievement by a Canadian artist and the $15,000 award for curatorial excellence in contemporary art were presented tonight in Ottawa by Gerda Hnatyshyn, C.C., President and Chair of the Board of The Hnatyshyn Foundation, during the Visual Arts Summit, the largest gathering ever of the visual arts in Canada.
The award recipients were selected by a jury of arts professionals from across Canada: Diana Nemiroff, Director of the Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa; Jon Tupper, Director of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown; Christine Ross, Associate Professor of Art History at McGill University, Montreal; Robert Enright, Winnipeg arts journalist, and Liz Magor, Vancouver artist.
Born in 1956 in Vancouver, Ken Lum has been exhibiting internationally since 1978. His gregarious and engaging work has been shown at numerous events including the Sydney Biennale (1992); the São Paulo Biennial (1998); the Shanghai Biennale (2000); Documenta XI (2002); the Liverpool Biennial (2006); and the Istanbul Biennial (2007).
He has also had an extensive teaching career in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia, as well as guest professorships in France, Germany and China. He currently teaches at Bard College in New York State.
In recommending Lum for the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award, the jury highlighted the multifaceted nature of his artistic practice: “From installations which present arrangements of furniture and décor that thwart physical access, to photographic portraits embellished with advertising graphics, Ken Lum’s work uses examples of familiar commercial design in situations which challenge the limits of good taste. Recognizing that the formation of one’s identity is informed by social and commercial influences, Lum blurs the boundaries between traditional and popular aesthetics in the interest of revealing the basis of our contemporary ethos. In addition to his studio work, Ken Lum has persistently challenged the precepts of the established art world through public presentations, writing and teaching. He has a particular interest in opening the field to include non-European artists. In 2000 he co-founded Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and has undertaken curatorial work in Africa, China and the United Arab Emirates. Taken together, Ken Lum’s activities constitute an active, critical engagement with the public as to what art is, how it is used and who has access to it.”
Louise Déry, recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art, is Director of the Art Gallery at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). She has a Ph.D. in art history from Université Laval and formerly held curatorial positions at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Her numerous projects have greatly contributed to the advancement of Quebec and Canadian art both nationally and internationally, particularly in France, Belgium, Italy, China, Japan and the United States. In 2007, Ms. Déry served as curator for the David Altmejd exhibition in the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, - an exhibition that was lauded by both Canadian and international art critics as one of the highlights of the prestigious biannual event featuring contemporary art.
The Hnatyshyn Foundation jury underlined the intellectual rigour of Ms. Dery’s curatorial practice, “Her exhibitions show an ability to engage with the contemporary world and her outstanding catalogues embody a desire to reflect on what it means to live in our world today. They combine a concern for making art accessible to a broad audience with a refined interpretation of the works, giving equal attention to the visual aspect of a work and its meaning.”
The Hnatyshyn Foundation is a private charity established by the late Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, Canada’s twenty-fourth Governor General. Its programs are funded by donations from government, foundations, corporations and individuals. The Department of Canadian Heritage has provided nearly $2.4 million in matching funds to the Foundation.