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Derya Akay, Rydel Cerezo, Michelle Sylliboy Make 2022 Sobey Award Longlist

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From L-R: Artists Derya Akay, Rydel Cerezo and Michelle Sylliboy. (Images courtesy the National Gallery of Canada).

By Perrin Grauer

Posted on May 19, 2022 | Updated May 27, 2022, 11:27am

The three artists are among 25 under consideration by a distinguished jury for prizes totalling $400,000.

Artists Derya Akay (BFA 2010), Rydel Cerezo (BFA 2019) and Michelle Sylliboy (BFA 2002) are among 25 outstanding creative practitioners included on the Sobey Art Award’s 2022 longlist.

The prestigious award is billed as “one of the world’s most generous privately funded prizes,” and is open to emerging Canadian contemporary visual artists of all ages.

“The Sobey Art Award underscores the importance of contemporary art in Canadian society at large,” Sasha Suda, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, says in a statement. “As Chair of the Jury, I was excited to see so many courageous and exciting artists nominated. Narrowing the slate down to a long list was hard work, and I am extremely grateful to the jurors who had the great task of making this selection. The 2022 Sobey Art Award invites us to celebrate what contemporary artists contribute to Canada today, while offering us optimism for tomorrow.”

A distinguished jury composed of one representative from each of Canada’s five regions — the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and the North, and the West Coast and Yukon — as well as one international juror will shortlist a finalist from each region.

One overall winner will receive a $100,000 prize, while $25,000 will go to each of the four other shortlisted artists. All five shortlisted artists will also be featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada during the fall of 2021. The remaining 20 longlisted artists will each receive $10,000.

The overall winner will be announced at a gala ceremony in the fall.

Scroll down to learn more about Derya, Rydel and Michelle, courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada.


Derya Akay

Akay hanging fruit

Derya Akay, Hanging fruit , 2020. 3D-printed replica of coat hanger, cedar coat hanger, copper, plastic fruit and vegetables, mesh bags, plastic bags, plastic balls, pomegranate, screws, sheep’s wool, wine bottles, 70 x 60 x 40cm. (© Derya Akay. Photo: Courtesy Unit 17, Rachel Topham Photography / National Gallery of Canada)

Derya Akay lives on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Selected group and solo exhibitions include What Water Knows, The Land Remembers — the Toronto Biennial of Art (2022), Meydan at The Polygon Gallery in Vancouver (2021), Contact Traces at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco (2021), The Neighbour’s Plate at Unit 17 in Vancouver (2020), The Lulennial II: A Low-Hanging Fruit at Lulu in Mexico City (2018), HERE: Locating Contemporary Canadian Artists at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (2017), with bread at the Campbell River Art Gallery in Campbell River, British Columbia (2017), and Pumice at Del Vaz Projects in Los Angeles (2017).


Rydel Cerezo

Cerezo wailing woman

Rydel Cerezo, Wailing Woman, 2021. Archival pigment print, 91 x 114 cm. (© Donganisa, Rydel Cerezo. Photo: Courtesy of the artist / National Gallery of Canada)

Rydel Cerezo works on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. Cerezo’s work investigates the spaces between sexuality, religion and race, with an interest in how these disparate themes metaphorically and visually coalesce.

Cerezo’s work Am I a Sea has been exhibited internationally at Aperture Foundation in New York City and at the Vogue Italia Festival in Milan, and was first runner-up for The Polygon Gallery’s Lind Prize. Cerezo has a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.


Michelle Sylliboy

Sylliboy elmi knik ilkwija lnoqtew ika taqniktuk

Michelle Sylliboy, Elmi'knik ilkwija'lnoqtew ika'taqniktuk – In the future, who will ease your heart in the garden?, 2020. Vinyl, 208.3 x 243.8 cm. (© Michelle Sylliboy. Photo: James Maclean / courtesy National Gallery of Canada)

Award-winning author and award-winning interdisciplinary Mi’kmaq/L’nu artist Michelle Sylliboy was raised on her traditional L’nuk territory in We’koqmaq, Cape Breton. While living on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Sylliboy completed a BFA at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and a Masters in Education at Simon Fraser University. She is currently a PhD candidate in Simon Fraser University’s Philosophy of Education program, where she is working to reclaim her original written komqwej’wikasikl language.

Sylliboy’s collection of photography and L’nuk hieroglyphic poetry, Kiskajeyi – I AM READY, was published by Rebel Mountain Press in 2019, and is now available as an e-book. She was recently made a tenure-track member of the faculty at Nova Scotia’s StFX University, in the departments of Education and Fine Arts.