2023 Founders Achievement Award Winners Announced

Frances Price, President of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts, announced today the recipients of our Founders Achievement Award

“In 2023, the 25th anniversary of Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts, Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak will receive the Founders Achievement Award in recognition of their long history of achievements in multi-media arts in the Greater Toronto Area and indeed all of Canada. 

I want to thank the Founders Achievement Award Committee Chair, Harriet Stairs, and her committee, who did their due diligence to research, analyze, and present their nominees for this award. My congratulations to the winners!”

The announcement of the award will be published today in Akimbo (Akimbo.ca), a Toronto-based on-line company that promotes contemporary visual art, video, new media and film locally, nationally and internationally.

The Achievements of Steele and Tomczak

Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak are the recipients of the TFVA 2023 Founders Achievement Award as a tribute to their outstanding contributions to the contemporary art scene individually, and through their long-standing multi-media collaboration. The Founders Achievement Award is a $15,000 prize.

Both Steele and Tomczak were recognized as solo artists before they began to work collaboratively. In 1980, Lisa was founding publisher and editor of FUSE Magazine. Each first worked with photography and video art, and each had been involved very early with artist-run centres: Lisa at A Space (Toronto) where she made her first videos, and Kim at Pumps (Vancouver) where he was one of the founders.

Their decision to work together became a permanent commitment in 1982; one that focussed their mutual interests and concerns.

During their three decade partnership, Steele and Tomczak have produced groundbreaking video and multi-media art that has been shown internationally.

In 1982, Steele and Tomczak undertook an international research study to determine how best to improve the distribution and dissemination of artists’ video work. The following year Steele and Tomczak co-founded VtapeCanada’s largest distributor of video art, documentaries, and installations and the world’s largest distributor of Indigenous film and video. Vtape has contributed significantly to the establishment of standards for both exhibition and archiving, and the preservation of video art.

Steele and Tomczak are recipients of many awards including the Governor General’s Award for lifetime achievement in Visual and Media Arts (2005), and the Peter Herrndorf Media Arts Award (Toronto Arts Awards). 

As two of Canada’s prominent artists they have contributed an awe-inspiring body of work and supported the creation, preservation, and archiving of video art.

This year, to honour the Founders Achievement Award recipients, TFVA has invited Curator, Elisa Coish, to record a visual presentation which is found at the conclusion of this  announcement.

Elisa Coish is a Curator with the Toronto-based art consulting firm, Demetriou Art Group. Her expertise is rooted in contemporary art, and her curatorial practice has been deeply informed by the diverse collections and artists she has worked with to date.

She previously held the role of Curator at Latcham Art Centre in Stouffville ON and was formerly the Senior Associate Curator at BMO Financial Group’s Corporate Art Collection.

Elisa is an Art History and Cinema Studies graduate from the University of Toronto.

CLICK HERE to view Coish’s presentation

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