Lakehead University’s 2020 Juried Exhibition at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, scheduled for March 6-April 30 but closed on March 16 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, included 32 awards for visual arts students.
“We weren’t able to give (the awards) in person — we had to mail everything this year,” says Kristy Holmes, chair of the Department of Visual Arts at Lakehead University. “I had a couple of e-mails (from students) and they were super happy, especially right now when there is so much going on. So for the (students) I heard back from it was such a nice little bit of news for them to get amidst (everything) that is going on, so they were really happy.”
Although the Juried Exhibition awards ceremony was cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the awards recipients’ artwork is posted online at: theag.ca/lakehead-university-juried-exhibition-student-awards-2020/.
“The Department of Visual Arts is very grateful to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and all our wonderful donors for making the Annual Student Juried Exhibition a huge success despite its early closure,” Holmes says. “We hope this virtual exhibition of award winners will bring you some joy during this uncertain time. A huge congratulations to all our award winners and students in the exhibition.”
Holmes says the Lakehead University Alumni Association Award purchase prize was presented to Hanyu (Rachel) Zhang for her painting Be Water My Friend.
“They buy the student’s work for $500,” Holmes says. “I think it’s a self portrait of her, a closeup of her face, and it sort of looks like she is underwater.”
The other awards included the Lakehead University Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities Award, which went to Gary Ho, for Painting; Bethany Potter, for Drawing; Julia Mills, for Ceramics; Hanna Marion, for Print; and Nathan Cross, for Sculpture.
Holmes says the Juried Exhibition provides an opportunity for the students to exhibit their art in a professional art gallery.
“They invite their friends and family to be part of that, so just having their art in the show is really important and significant,” Holmes says. “And the awards are like their end-of-year (event) to celebrate all the hard work they put in to all of their classes. I think it’s really nice for them to have a night to celebrate everything they’ve done and their success.”
The Thunder Bay Art Gallery has showcased the artwork of the Lakehead University students for about 40 years. This year’s Juried Exhibition featured 54 works by 39 different students.
“It opened to the public on March 6,” says Sharon Godwin, director of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. “We had it open until March 15 — people loved the show. They always say: ‘I find it interesting, oh, it’s a really good show this year,’ because it’s so unique. All the students are not afraid to push the limit and they are so creative and there is such a variety of work. That’s what people really like, the variety of work the students produce and all the different mediums they use.”
Godwin says Juried Exhibition usually has the biggest opening reception of all the different exhibitions throughout the year.
“It’s so crowded and it’s so much fun,” Godwin says. “People love it. It’s not just the families that come, it’s everybody. A lot of people come to the opening because the awards are really exciting and the buzz. We just couldn’t believe when we had to cancel it.”
The Lakehead University Honours Exhibition for the graduating visual arts students was also scheduled for March 6-April 30 at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.