Canada Council for the Arts honours eight Canadian greats for the 2012 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts

The winners of the 2012 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were recently announced by Robert Sirman, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. Each has, in their own way, made a mark on Canada’s dynamic art scene through their groundbreaking work.

They are:

Margaret Dragu, performance artist; Geoffrey James, photographer; Charles Lewton-Brain, artist-goldsmith (Saidye Bronfman Award); Ron Martin, visual artist; Diana Nemiroff, art gallery director and curator (Outstanding Contribution); Jan Peacock, visual artist – media and installation; Royden Rabinowitch, sculptor; and Jana Sterbak, visual artist.

In addition to a $25,000 prize from the Canada Council, the winners will each receive a special-issue medallion sponsored by the Royal Canadian Mint. 

“Throughout their careers, the 2012 winners of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts have surprised, touched and inspired us,” stated His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. “Let us celebrate these Canadian artists whose creativity and talent we can all be proud of.”

“Artists are alchemists, and the 2012 Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts laureates are masters at transforming everyday experience into gold,” said Robert Sirman, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. “These awards celebrate artists who have played a key role in shaping the Canada of today, and who continue to have a lasting and positive impact on our culture.” 

The Governor General of Canada will present the 2012 Awards at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, March 28 at 6:00pm.

An exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada will be held in conjunction with these awards, running from March 30 to June 17, 2012. In addition to the exhibition, on March 21st at 7:00pm, TIFF will hold a special screening of Jan Peacock’s work as part of The Free Screen, TIFF Cinematheque’s ongoing showcase of independent and avant-garde media arts work.

The GG Awards, funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are in their 13th year and recognize distinguished career achievements in the visual and media arts by Canadian artists, as well as outstanding contributions through voluntarism, philanthropy, board governance, community outreach or professional activities. The Canada Council Art Bank – celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – has in its collection, many works by the 100+ artists who have won the Awards through the years, works that are available for rent or for loan.

The Saidye Bronfman Award recognizes excellence in fine crafts, and is funded from the proceeds of a $1.5-million endowment given to the Canada Council by The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation in 2006. The support of the Foundation to the Canadian Museum of Civilization has also helped the Museum acquire works by recipients of the Saidye Bronfman Award. 

This year’s independent peer assessment committee for the Awards consisted of John Bentley Mays (Toronto), Dana Claxton (Vancouver), Yvon Cozic (Sainte-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, Quebec), Michael Fernandes (East Dover, Nova Scotia.), Mary Scott (Calgary) and Bill Vorn (Montreal).

The peer assessment committee members for the Saidye Bronfman Award were Leslie Manning (Medicine Hat, Alberta), Marcel Marois (Québec City) and Lillian Yuen (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia).

The role of the Canada Council for the Arts is to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. To fulfill this mandate, the Council offers a broad range of grants and services to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations in music, dance, integrated arts, media arts, theatre, visual arts, and writing and publishing. It also promotes public awareness of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities.

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