By Rick Garrick
FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION—Fort William artist Christian Chapman was recently recognized with the Emerging Artist of the Year award at the 10th annual Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.
“I feel very honoured for winning the award,” Chapman says. “I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. It’s nice to be recognized for the work that you put into your career.”
Chapman creates his art in a studio located on the shoreline of Lake Superior with a view of the Sleeping Giant.
“It’s my childhood home — it’s my grandmother’s house,” Chapman says. “Working in my grandmother’s house is amazing. I’m pretty lucky to have the setup that I do. It’s right on the water.”
Chapman was selected as the Emerging Artist of the Year by Christi Belcourt, a Métis visual artist from Espanola who was recognized with the Individual Artist Award at the Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.
“When you’re a finalist, there are six finalists, you get to choose an emerging artist to win the Emerging Artist award,” Chapman says. “Christi chose me, so when she won, I won. Coming from Christi, it’s huge because I think she is an amazing person, an amazing artist. It’s a huge honour for me for sure, coming from her.”
Chapman is pleased with the response to his Emerging Artist of the Year award.
“People are really happy about it,” Chapman says. “Christi Belcourt, she is the real winner for this. She gave a really beautiful speech. It was amazing.”
Chapman received the award on Oct. 5 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. He received a $15,000 prize while Belcourt received a $35,000 prize.
Belcourt’s work celebrates the beauty of the natural world while exploring its symbolic properties.
A Different Booklist, an independent bookstore and literary cultural destination in Toronto, received a $50,000 award for winning the Arts Organization Award. The bookstore is respected nationally and internationally for its specialty in books by African-Canadian and Caribbean writers.
“Ontario’s art sector reflects the drive, talent, and diversity of our province,” says Premier Kathleen Wynne. “I am honoured to recognize the outstanding winners and finalists of the 10th annual Premier’s Awards for their passion, dedication and commitment to excellence. Thank you for enriching our daily lives and inspiring us all.”
Chapman’s two-dimensional mixed-media artwork fuses elements of computer-manipulated images, painting, drawing and printmaking.
“I’ve been doing a little bit of screen-making, a little bit of painting,” Chapman says about his most recent work. “I just donated some work to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for their Annual Art Auction.”
Chapman plans to hold a print sale at the end of October to raise some funds for his upcoming month-long artists residence program in Iceland during November.
“I’m hoping to get seven-to-nine different screen prints done for the end of the month,” Chapman says. “I’m going to Reykjavik. You get to meet a lot of different artists from all over the world.”
Chapman recently exhibited his work at the Ojibway Cultural Centre in M’Chigeeng on Manitoulin Island.
“Congratulations to Christi Belcourt, A Different Booklist, and Christian Chapman on receiving the 10th annual Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts,” says Rita Davies, chair of the Ontario Arts Council. “Each of this year’s winners shows how the arts can bring together communities, draw attention to crucial issues, and inspire us to see the world from new perspectives. My thanks to them, and all of this year’s finalists, for their outstanding work.”