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Artist Veronika Horlik announced winner of the 2015 RBC Emerging Artist People's Choice Award
Veronika with installation.

TORONTO, ON.- The people have spoken. Montreal-based artist and NSCAD graduate, Veronika Horlik, has been voted the winner of the RBC Emerging Artist People’s Choice Award and the recipient of the $10,000 prize. Veronika’s striking installation draws inspiration from two vastly different sources: the artist’s own experiences working in reforestation in the Canadian North and the popular Japanese video game Katamari Damacy. The winner was announced at a public celebration at the Gardiner Museum on Friday, August 14.

“The path of an artist is one of voluntary isolation—to have my work acknowledged by a national audience is to have a window of my view of the world blown wide open,” says Horlik.

The award, which recognizes the work of five up-and-coming contemporary artists nominated by a panel of practitioners, curators, and arts educators, celebrates clay as a medium and introduces the public to new talent and trends in contemporary ceramics. This year, the award took on particular significance amid renewed public interest in the long-running debate on art versus craft and the place of ceramics in contemporary art.

“The RBC Emerging Artist People’s Choice Award is at the forefront of an important shift toward greater awareness of the innovation and experimentation that is engaging the next generation of ceramic artists. Veronika Horlik’s bold conceptual work and the public’s strong reaction to it are a testament to that”, says Kelvin Browne, Gardiner Museum Executive Director and CEO. “The Museum is grateful to the RBC Emerging Artist Project for recognizing the challenges that artists often face in the early stages of their careers and the importance of provided them with support at such a critical juncture.”

Horlik’s winning submission, entitled PROUNS(SLASH), is made up of two parts. The first is a knotted 300-pound ceramic form that evokes the charred tree stumps left over after a forest harvest and subsequent fire. Large panels featuring images taken from the Canadian reforestation industry protrude from the dark ceramic mass. Mounted on the wall behind the sculpture is a ceramic mural in the form of a cosmic target. Together, the two parts represent the artist’s unique interpretation of Katamari Damacy, a Japanese video game in which a young prince attempts to reconstruct the universe by rolling adhesive balls along the ground collecting the objects in their path before launching them into space to be transformed into stars.

“At RBC, our support of the arts has been a long-standing priority as we recognize that the arts are the heart and soul of our communities and cultures,” says Valerie Chort, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, RBC. “Veronika’s submission is representative of the creative work that we are proud to support through the RBC Emerging Artist Project. We hope this is one of many successful accomplishments in her career.”

Horlik, who divides her time between her studio practice and teaching visual arts and ceramics at John Abbott College and Art Education at McGill University, was nominated for the award by internationally exhibiting ceramic artist and fellow Québecois, Pascale Giardin.

The RBC Emerging Artist People’s Choice Award exhibition will continue to be on display at the Gardiner Museum until August 30, giving visitors a last chance to see Horlik’s $10,000 winning installation and the entries of her fellow nominees.

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