Two members of Vancouver’s arts community receiving awards in Ottawa today


Photo Canada Council for the Arts – Photographer Sandra Semchuk

Two members of Vancouver’s arts community will be presented with the 2018 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts today in recognition of their achievements.

Photographer, videographer and Emily Carr University of Art + Design instructor Sandra Semchuk and curator and grunt gallery program director Glenn Alteen are being recognized along with six other artists from across the country.

Alteen, who co-founded the artist-run grunt gallery in 1984, said he was speechless when he first got the news of the award.

“It’s a great honour and I feel a real vindication for over three decades work at grunt. With all the other artists who have won this award I feel a bit humbled,” he said.

“At grunt we have always tried to focus on artists whose work doesn’t often get seen in Vancouver and this has played out with artists from many different communities and disciplines. Our archive really shows a different history of Vancouver art then you might see in other institutions,” Alteen said. He was nominated for the award by Vancouver-based artist, curator and writer Lorna Brown.

Alteen said,”Vancouver has a large community of artists working in a a host of ways. Its a rich scene. We are lucky to have such a community in a city the size of Vancouver.”

ECUAD instructor Semchuk is releasing a book this year titled: Ukrainians in Canada:The Stories Were Not Told, Stories and Photographs from Canada’s First Internment Camps, 1914-1920. 

The Ukrainian Canadian artist was nominated for the award by curator Andrea Kunard and artist Althea Thauberger.

“Sandra Semchuk’s work reminds us of the necessity to continually rethink our positions as artists, as speaking subjects, as listeners,” said Thauberger in her nomination.

Award winners will be showcased in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada from March 29 until August 5.

Semchuk worked in collaboration with her late husband, James Nicholas, a Cree artist from Nelson House, Manitoba and residential school survivor for 15 years to disrupt myths that shape settler relations to First Nations.

She will include an installation of photographs titled Residential School, Camperville, Manitoba, c. 2006-2010 in the exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada. Glenn Alteen will be highlighted through a selection of his catalogues and archival material.

Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette will present the awards at Rideau Hall in Ottawa today. Other award winner’s include Toronto-based artists Bruce Eves, Spring Hurlbut and Midi Onodera. Media artist Wyn Geleynse from London, Ontario, Adrian Stimson from Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation, Alberta and Jack Sures from Regina, Saskatchewan.

Each award winner receives a cash prize of $25,000 and a medallion. The prizes are funded, administered and promoted by the Canada Council for the Arts.

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Melissa is a reporter at Vancouver Is Awesome and has worked primarily in radio and online media. She grew up in Ontario, went to school in Halifax and worked in Northern B.C. before moving to Vancouver. If you've got a story to share email: