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Alumni Brenda Draney + Jeremy Shaw Named to Sobey Shortlist

Shaw Draney

By Roxanne Toronto

Posted on June 01, 2016 | Updated August 06, 2019, 9:06AM

The Sobey Art Award is the pre-eminent prize for Canadian artists 40 and under.

Emily Carr is pleased to share news that alumna Brenda Draney (MAA '10) and alumnus Jeremy Shaw (BFA '00) have been selected for the Sobey Art Award Shortlist, representing the Prairies & North and Westcoast & Yukon, respectively.

The Sobey Art Award is the pre-eminent prize for Canadian artists 40 and under. Presented annually, the award celebrates some of our country’s most exciting young artists and provides significant financial recognition. This year it will present $100,000 in prize money — including a top prize of $50,000 for the winner. Each of the four finalists will receive $10,000.

Brenda Draney grew up in Slave Lake, Alberta. She has a BA in English and in Fine Art in Painting from the University of Alberta and an MA from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. The 11th winner of the annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2009, Draney was also longlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2013. Her work has been exhibited at The Power Plant in Toronto, Toronto International Art Fair and MKG127 Gallery, and was recently included in 90X90: Celebrating Art in Alberta at the Art Gallery of Alberta. Draney lives and works in Edmonton.


"This year’s short list is an incredibly impressive selection of Canadian artists. For me, it signals a shift in Canadian production, one that is not solely rooted in the larger cultural centres, but presents both a transnational and a more rural, or smaller-centre, focus. With the Sobey Art Award moving to the National Gallery, a much higher profile is brought, not only to the award, but also to all the nominated artists, regardless of outcome. I predict a very thrilling 13th iteration of the Sobey Art Award. Artist Brenda Draney takes the personal and makes it universal: her work is powerful, completely unique and without compromise. It is very exciting to see Draney’s work being given a national platform; her voice deserves to be heard."

Naomi Potter, Juror

Jeremy Shaw works in a variety of media to explore altered states and the cultural and scientific practices that aspire to map transcendental experience. Often combining and amplifying strategies from the realms of conceptual art, ethnographic film, music video, mystical and scientific research, Shaw proposes a post-documentary space in which disparate ideals, belief-systems and narration are put into crisis. He has had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, US, Schinkel Pavillon, DE, and MOCCA, CA, and been featured in group exhibitions at Stedelijk Museum, NE, KW Institute, DE, and Palais de Tokyo, FR.

"Jeremy Shaw is an acclaimed artist and musician. His compelling visual art works, largely produced in film, video and photography, frequently draw on his interest in the psychedelic: depicting altered states of mind or similar states of reverie through which we look at the world with new eyes. In this sense, the psychedelic is analogous to art making – promising a new perspective from which we hope to learn about the world and understand it better. In my mind, Shaw has more kinship with famed British scientist Humphry Osmond than counter-culture guru Timothy Leary. His work is as investigative as it is generative."

Jonathan Middleton, Juror

Work by all five of the shortlisted artists will be on exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada, October 6 - February 5, 2017. The winner of the 2016 Sobey Art Award will be announced at the National Gallery of Canada at a gala event to be held in November 2016.

Our congratulations to all of the shortlisted artists!