The award program announced on April 15, 2020 that it was cancelling the selection of a five artist shortlist, the annual shortlist exhibition, the final winner announcement gala and the International Residencies Program. This year, each of the 25 artists on the jury-selected longlist will be awarded $25,000 instead of the previous programming.
“We are so proud to be able to celebrate the work of these 25 talented artists,” said Sobey Art Foundation Chair Rob Sobey in a release. “These extraordinary, historic, and challenging circumstances will have a profound impact on the livelihoods and practices of artists across Canada and around the world. As we all adjust to the changes in our every-day lives, we recognize how artists and their art can bring us together. Our sincere wish is that this year’s longlist artists will utilize this additional support to continue to do so,” he added.
Emily Carr University alumni were among the longlist including Tsēmā Igharas (BFA 2011) and Zadie Xa (BFA 2007). “I’m in shock and incredibly honoured,” said Tsēmā. “This announcement to restructure the Sobey Art Award is a blessing to all the artists on the longlist and I am grateful to share this gift with them.”
Tsēmā’s practice uses Potlatch methodology to create conceptual artwork connecting materials to mine sites and bodies to the land. She received the Emily Award in 2018.
“Łān Mēduh (Tāłtān for much thanks) to Natasha Chaykowski for the nomination,” she continued, “I want to thank the Sobey Art Award and National Gallery of Canada for supporting the artists on this list and the arts industry in Canada. This action is a microcosm of hope and love for the arts and beyond. Congratulations to all my fellow artists on the longlist as well.”
The longlisted artists were selected from more than 100 nominations. “Selected from one of the longest nomination lists to date, the 2020 Sobey Art Award’s 25 winners reflect the remarkable richness and range of contemporary art practices across Canada,” said the Sobey Art Award jury in a statement. “Distinctly dynamic, resonant, and compelling, these artists’ works bring to view meaningful approaches to their materials and gestures. They create new relationships and vocabularies that value specificity with regard to personal, geographic, cultural, or socio-historical perspectives, yet open themselves onto broader forms of connection.”
The Sobey Art Award is “committed to returning to the juried annual award and the international residencies program as soon as public health guidelines permit,” says today’s release.