BMO 1st Art! Returns to Celebrate Canadian Artists in its First Ever Virtual Exhibition

BMO 1st Art! Returns to Celebrate Canadian Artists in its First Ever Virtual Exhibition

Canada NewsWire

  • BMO Financial Group announces one national winner and 12 regional winners for its annual BMO 1st Art! competition
  • $15,000 is awarded to the national winner; $7,500 is awarded to each regional winner
  • All selected works will be showcased in a virtual exhibition hosted by The Art Museum at the University of Toronto from September 15 to October 16 at

TORONTO, Sept. 15, 2020 /CNW/ - BMO Financial Group today announced the winners of its 18th annual BMO 1st Art! competition celebrating outstanding achievements in visual arts among undergraduate artists from coast to coast.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and for the safety of its artists and patrons, BMO 1st Art! is taking its annual gallery exhibition virtual. Hosted by the Art Museum at the University of Toronto on their Virtual Art Museum site, the exhibition will showcase all 13 winning works from September 15 to October 16. The award recipients will receive cash prizes of $15,000 for the national award and $7,500 for each regional winner, spanning Canada's diverse provinces and territories.

"It's a privilege to honour the inventive and complex work of Canada's top post-secondary students, a generation that represents the future of art in Canada," said Cameron Fowler, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, BMO Financial Group. "BMO is committed to supporting the creativity and talent of our rising artists and we're proud to be part of this distinguished initiative. Congratulations to the 2020 winners on all of their accomplishments."

"We are thrilled to spotlight these remarkable artists as they transition from art school to art practice," said Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Art Collection. "In moving the exhibition to a virtual format we are able to share these innovative and timely works with new audiences in Canada and beyond."

The annual competition invites deans and instructors from 110 undergraduate art programs across Canada to nominate three students from each of their studio specialties to submit a recent work. An esteemed panel of jurors selected this year's winning works from a pool of 295 submissions. Submission guidelines allow for time-based media including video, film, audio, and computer technologies, in addition to mediums of drawing, printmaking, photography, painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics, textiles, mixed media, and installation works.

Full list of 2020 BMO 1st Art! winners:

National Winner

  • Simone Elizabeth Saunders, "It Matters", Alberta University of the Arts (Alberta)

Regional Winners

  • Jasmine MacGregor, "Anishinaabekwe (Ojibway woman)", Alberta University of the Arts (Alberta)
  • David Ezra Wang, "Practicum", University of British Columbia (British Columbia)
  • Gabriel Roberts, "A Closet Painted Blue", University of Manitoba (Manitoba)
  • Matthew Cripps, "4 Crawling Vases", New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (New Brunswick)
  • Kathleen Elliott, "Well Seasoned", Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Alex Sutcliffe, "A Finger Cuts Light", NSCAD University (Nova Scotia)
  • Ellie Tungilik, "Finding Hope", Nunavut Arctic College (Nunavut)
  • Tian Cao, "2020 Surfing the Internet", OCAD University (Ontario)
  • Duncan Brooks, "Empty Steps", Holland College (Prince Edward Island)
  • Mikael Lepage, "Dénué", Université du Québec à Montréal (Quebec)
  • Rey Francis Dominic B. Tatad, "Chosen Land", University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
  • Nicole Favron, "5.5 hours of shovelling so I can walk in the path of a moose", Yukon School of Visual Arts (Yukon)

Highlighted works include:

  • "A hand-tufted textile portrait of a Black civilian in western society during the COVID-19 pandemic. This colourful patchwork focuses on the quality and importance of Black life (matters) in a time where the pandemic has eradicated social normativity, further isolating marginalized communities and resulting in amplified racial biases toward Black and Brown people." (Simone Elizabeth Saunders, National winner)
  • "Inspired by the artist's observation of 'poor images' on the internet including static memes, low-resolution short videos, tawdry commercial images and manipulated self-images, this interactive 3D project, created using the game engine Unity, explores issues of accessibility, democracy, mass reproduction, culture conflict, self-identity and consumerism." (Tian Cao, Ontario winner)
  • "An oil on canvas portrait of a man dressed in a white shirt; symbolizing masculinity and social class. Going against all conventions the artist has turned the shirt backwards and wrinkled it, offering the viewer more questions than answers." (Mikael Lepage, Quebec winner)
  • "This mixed-media installation featuring cyanotypes on paper, linen, denim and cushions is a contemplative exploration into the artist's own sexuality within the constraints of a closeted relationship." (Gabriel Roberts, Manitoba winner)

The 2020 Selection Committee:

  • Melanie Colosimo, Director/Curator, Anna Leonowens Gallery, NS
  • Francisco-Fernando Granados, Faculty of Art, OCAD University, ON
  • Marie-Eve Beaupré, Curator, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, QC
  • cheyanne turions, Curator SFU Galleries, BC

To view images of the winning works on BMO Financial Group's website, please visit:

To access the virtual exhibition please visit:

About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $974 billion as of July 31, 2020, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

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