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Liz Carter | IDEA Art Award Winner

By Eva Bouchard | filed in Emily Carr Stories

Posted on April 29, 2016 | Updated June 10, 2019, 11:07AM

Congratulations to this year's IDEA Art Award Winner Liz Carter!

"My hopes are that my work will help distract those in need of healing, and promote cultural discussion in a safe and healthy way.”

When the jury for the IDEA Art Award met to view the short-listed works being considered for this year’s prize, they were taken aback by the stunning, large scale photograph submitted by student Liz Carter. Carter’s piece, Bison, is provocative, intriguing, and pulls the viewer into the image’s narrative.

Liz Carter is a multi-media artist who has spent her life visually expressing herself through her art practice. She is also a person of First Nations ancestry who has been displaced from her cultural roots, which has strongly affected her art practice. According to Carter, her life has taken her on “a biographical journey full of unanswered questions about displacement and loss of tradition.” Through her journey, Carter has uncovered a realm of commercial images of the 'Imaginary Indian' that profoundly impacts our perception, and the determined struggle of Kwakwaka'wakw culture to carry forward their ancient symbols and meanings into a contemporary life.

Influenced by her Native ancestry and her blue-collared upbringing, Carter’s work is driven by process. Using culturally significant materials like wood, copper, buttons, and animal skins, she is a contemporary artist whose work references the past and cultural interpretations.

Carter was thrilled to receive the prize, and expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to have her work make a difference in people’s lives. “Art can heal. Creative expression can make a powerful contribution to the healing process, and I am very happy to be able to contribute to that process. 

Bison speaks of re-appropriation and stereotyping of North American Indigenous cultures, but it also speaks of hope and reconnection with basic human needs. My hopes are that my work will help distract those in need of healing, and promote cultural discussion in a safe and healthy way.”

Bison, at the jury’s request, was placed in the Diamond Pavilion at VGH so it could be viewed by a wider audience.

About the IDEA Art Award The IDEA Art Award was established in 2009 through a generous donation by Dr. Ian Penn and Dr. Sandy Whitehouse, in consultation with the Healing Art Committee at VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and Emily Carr University of Art and Design. The annual award allows for the purchase of an artwork by an emerging artist that will be displayed within the hospital and will become part of the permanent collection. Each year a specific area of the hospital is selected for the IDEA Art Award’s winning work.

The IDEA Art Award affords artists the opportunity to consider their work within an environment where it can make a real difference by acting not merely as a source of visual distraction but also as a source of inspiration in a difficult time. It offers emerging artists the opportunity to have an artwork in a prestigious collection while also contributing to the transformation of a vitally important site.