Prairie Excellence is the very best of contemporary fine craft from the Prairies distilled into one exhibition. Featuring work by 35 artists (selected from 163 submissions) the show is a unique and balanced blend of work from each of the Prairie Provinces. While some of the featured artists, like Winnipeg’s Grace Nickel, Kathryne Koop, and Keith Oliver, are well established, the exhibit also showcases craft artists who are relatively new to the scene. This is a unique opportunity to view the work of emerging, mid-career and established artists under one roof.
The “call for entry” for Prairie Excellence was widely distributed throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta in late 2009. The response was both exciting and daunting—276 pieces were submitted by 163 artists. A selection committee consisting of one curator from each province was assembled. In their first round of review based on submitted photos, resumes, and print material, the committee selected 50 pieces. An in-person selection stage was held at the Alberta Craft Council Gallery in Edmonton and 35 pieces were eventually chosen for the exhibition. The committee was challenged to look at work in all craft media, ranging from jewellery to large sculptural pieces. They discussed and sometimes argued about issues of conceptual, creative and technical excellence. They were further challenged to choose recipients for best of province awards, and recipients for best emerging, mid-career and established artist awards. To reflect the breadth of the submissions, the committee members also opted for an honourable mention in each of the emerging, mid-career, and established artist categories.
The show marks an exciting new collaboration between the Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta Craft Councils. These organizations exist to promote the work of craft artists from their own province by developing the careers of new and veteran artists and by increasing public awareness about great art being created in our midst. By working together, the prairie Craft Councils can take this mission even further.
Manitoba artists in this exhibition include Grace Nickel, Kathryne Koop, Robert Wilson, Sue Sutherland, Teresa Burrows, Dave Wasylyshen, Jordan van Sewell, Crystal Nykoluk, Keith Oliver, Nancy Hall, and Tibor Bodi.
Prairie Excellence will make Winnipeg its third stop in a tour of Western Canada, showing at Gallery 1C03 (University of Winnipeg) from April 28-May 28, 2011. An opening reception is planned for Thursday, April 28, 5:00 - 7:00 pm, with many of the Manitoba artists in attendance. A panel discussion will take place on Thursday, May 26 at 7:00 p.m. in Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall.
Image: Robert Wilson, Sliced Antler Vessel, Antler, pine form, casting resin, dark roast coffee, 2009