Sobey Art Award 2022: The Shortlist
Founded in 2002, the annual Sobey Art Award celebrates contemporary artists from across all regions of Canada. Funded by the Sobey Art Foundation and organized by the National Gallery of Canada, this prestigious art prize has recognized and supported numerous artists, including Brian Jungen, Annie Pootoogook, Raphaëlle de Groot and Kapwani Kiwanga, and nationally and internationally.
This year’s five finalists are Stanley Février, Azza El Siddique, Divya Mehra, Krystle Silverfox and Tyshan Wright. Through their work, they explore themes reflecting personal experiences and global concerns, cultural diversity and history, and identity and narrative. As interdisciplinary artists, all five intertwine various media in distinctive and unconventional ways. A selection of their work will be presented in a group exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada this fall and the winner of the 2022 Sobey Art Award will be announced in November.
Tyshan Wright (Atlantic)
Originally from Accompong, Jamaica, and currently based in Halifax, Tyshan Wright is a “Jamaica Gleaner.” In this role, he is a keeper of Jamaican Maroon heritage — a culture that originated in the 17th century, when people of African origin resisted slavery, creating free, independent communities in the island’s interior. Wright uses natural materials, such as wood, to create mixed-media works representing traditional Maroon cultural objects of celebration, spirituality and ceremony. His sculptures express narratives of diaspora and cultural connections over time “from our origins in Ghana to the Trelawny Town Maroons’ exile from Jamaica to Nova Scotia,” while also reflecting his interest in connecting traditional craft with contemporary art. His work has been exhibited across Canada, and in 2021–22 he was the artist-in-residence at NSCAD University’s Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery.
Stanley Février (Quebec)
Born in Haiti, Stanley Février is a multidisciplinary Quebec artist, working in sculpture, photography, installation and performance. His work explores psychological trauma, physical suffering, social issues, equality, and personal relationships within a fractured world. Through his art practice, he seeks “to create a meeting place with participants as the heart of the work” encouraging them “to re-politicize and affirm their experiences to complete the work.” By expanding “I” to “We,” his art transcends the singular to the universal and creates spaces for voices to resonate. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally, and is represented in public collections that include the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Azza El Siddique (Ontario)
Working in painting, sculpture, installation and film, Toronto artist Azza El Siddique creates multi-sensory, sculptural environments incorporating an array of smaller elements in materials such as ceramics, glass and water. Speaking at Toronto’s Gardiner Museum in 2020, she described some of the themes that inspire her work — including transience, loss and mortality, history, power and mythology — saying, “The structures that I create tend to speak to the idea of institutional frameworks.” She considers these forms within concepts of spirituality, transformation or human experience, and reflects upon the ephemeral nature of these ideas. A Sudanese-Canadian, she is a graduate of OCAD University and the Yale School of Art, and has had solo exhibitions in Toronto, Montreal and New York. Her work is currently on view at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, MA.
Divya Mehra (Prairies and North)
Winnipeg-born Divya Mehra is an interdisciplinary artist whose work spans a broad range of media —including video, sculpture, text and performance. A graduate of Columbia University in New York City, she was a finalist for the 2017 Sobey Art Award, and in 2018 was featured in the CBC docuseries In the Making. In her practice, she explores diaspora, colonialism, identity and culture. She has said of her art, “I use humour as an entry point. Ultimately, my work is about the conversation that follows.” In such works as Here at least we shall be free (Build yourself a Taj Mahal for common folks OR a simple set for funniest home video) and There is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away (not Vishnu: New ways of Darsána), she employs satire to address themes of loss and the impact of colonialism.
Krystle Silverfox (West Coast and Yukon)
A member of the Selkirk First Nation (Wolf Clan) and currently residing on the territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (Dawson City, Yukon), Krystle Silverfox is an interdisciplinary artist working in painting, digital media, Indigenous beading and installation. Much of her work is inspired by her Northern Tutchone culture and heritage, as well as by her experiences as an urban Indigenous woman. As the artist noted in a recent Polygon Gallery interview, she often uses "traditional art methods to tell stories." Her work focuses on land politics and stewardship, as well as kinship, family and tradition, often incorporating objects from her life as reflections of identity. A graduate of the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, she was a Finalist of the 2021 Yukon Prize for Visual Arts.
Work by the five shortlisted artists will be featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, on view from October 28, 2022 until February 2023, with the winner announced at a gala ceremony this fall. The Sobey Art Award is funded by the Sobey Art Foundation (SAF) and organized and presented by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). Share this article and subscribe to our newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest articles, Gallery exhibitions, news and events, and to learn more about art in Canada.