TFVA is an independent, non-profit organization which provides an educational program for its members and supports and recognizes a wide and diverse community in the visual arts. Since its inception in 1998, TFVA has awarded $1,000,000. Every year, TFVA presents its awards and celebrates Toronto’s art and artists on Tribute Night.
The Artist Prize recognizes a late-emerging to early mid-career artist, whose primary practice is in the greater Toronto area, and who demonstrates exceptional talent, with an exhibition history in either solo or group exhibitions. The Artist Prize winner receives $15,000 and the finalists each receive $5,000.
2021 TFVA ARTIST PRIZE AWARDS:
This year the TFVA Artist Prize Committee chose to award five Artist Prize Finalists each $5,000.
ARTIST PRIZE 2021 FINALIST: JEN AITKEN
In her sculptures and drawings, JEN AITKEN creates out of a close examination of the spaces, shapes and materials of the built environment.
ARTIST PRIZE 2021 FINALIST: ROUZBEH AKHBARI
ROUZBEH AKHBARI creates work that sits at the intersections between storytelling, critical architecture and human geography. He uses video installation, film and literature.
ARTIST PRIZE 2021 FINALIST: MELISSA GENERAL
MELISSA GENERAL'S practice is rooted in photography as she works with a combination of traditional and modern materials to create audio, video, installation and performance work.
ARTIST PRIZE 2021 FINALIST: OREKA JAMES
OREKA JAMES creates work that composes worlds to animate the crossing of realms, affirming what would be considered intangible. With a practice rooted in drawing and painting, James considers the excavation of histories, present and futures while giving tribute to land and ancestral life.
ARTIST PRIZE 2021 FINALIST: SHELLIE ZHANG
Through a wide range of media, SHELLIE ZHANG explores the contexts and construction of a multicultural society by disassembling standard approaches to tradition, gender, the diaspora and popular culture.
2020 Winner: Anique Jordan
A Toronto-based artist, writer and curator, Jordan works primarily in photography, sculpture and performance. Through extensive research and community engagement, her work combines history, myth and intuition to draw attention to existing struggles, challenge dominant narratives and offer new possibilities.
Artist Anique Jordan
Finalist: Vanessa Dion Fletcher
Dion Fletcher is a Lenape and Potawatomi, two-spirited indigenous artist. Her work is materially and socially driven, using porcupine quills, Wampum belts and menstrual blood to understand decolonization, disability and the physical/cultural body.
Vanessa Dion Fletcher
Finalist: Lisa Myers
Myers is a member of the Beausoleil First Nation. She has a keen interest is inter-disciplinary collaboration, drawing from her experiences as an educator, curator, writer, musician and chef.
2019 Winner: Esmaa Mohamoud
Esmaa works primarily in sculpture and installation. Her practice is focused on cultural constructs of Blackness and how Black bodies are navigated through contemporary spaces.
Finalist: Tau Lewis
Tau is a self-taught Jamaican-Canadian sculptor. Her practice is rooted in personal and collective healing through labour and myth-making. Tau uses found and repurposed materials to build portraits that investigate black identity and agency, memory and recovery, and African diaspora.
Finalist: Michèle Pearson Clarke
Michèle works in photography, film, video and installation to explore personal and political connections to longing and loss. She was recently appointed Photo Laureate for the City of Toronto.
2018 Winner: Sandra Brewster
Sandra Brewster is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and abroad, engaging themes that grapple with notions of identity, representation and memory.
2018 Finalist: Hazel Meyer
Hazel Meyer is an interdisciplinary artist who works with installation, performance and text to investigate the relationships between sport, sexuality, feminism and material culture.
2018 Finalist: Camille Turner
Camille Turner is an explorer of race, space, home and belonging. Straddling media, social practice and performance art, her work has been seen throughout Canada and internationally.
2017 Winner: Nep Sidhu
NEP SIDHU lives and works in Toronto with satellite studios and projects in India. Through the practice of continuum and study of technique, his textile, painting and sculpture provide a contemporary context to explore the sacred and divine with a focus on ceremony and adornment.
2017 Finalist: Marvin Luvualu Antonio
MARVIN LUVUALU ANTONIO is a Toronto-based artist with a multidisciplinary approach to art making. His practice is instinctive, personal and performative, investigating the politics of object, place, race and body.
2017 Finalist: Coco Guzman
COCO GUZMAN is a Toronto-based, queer identifying artist originally from Southern Spain. Guzman's drawings and installations tell stories of silenced histories and memories to challenge social oppression and advocate for change.
2016 Winner: vsvsvs
vsvsvs is a seven person collective based out of a warehouse in Toronto' portlands. Their members are Wallis Cheung, Ryan Clayton, Anthony Cooper, James Gardner, Stephen McLeod, Laura Simon and Miles Stemp. Formed in 2010, vsvsvs' activities encompass collective art making, a residency program, a formal exhibition space and individual studio practice.
2016 Finalist: Erika DeFreitas
ERIKA DeFREITAS is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary conceptual artist. She explores the influence of language, loss and culture on the formation of identity through public intervention, textile-based works and performative actions that are photographed, placing an emphasis on process, gesture and documentation.
2016 Finalist: Bridget Moser
BRIDGET MOSER is a Toronto-based performance and video artist whose work is suspended between prop comedy, experimental theatre, performance art, absurd literature, existential anxiety and intuitive dance.
2015 Winner: Nadia Belerique
NADIA BELERIQUE constructs installations that engage with the poetics of perception and asks how images perform in contemporary culture.
2015 Finalist: Laurie Kang
LAURIE KANG's practice is based in photography, sculpture, video, performative collaborations and collage.
2015 Finalist: Niall McClelland
NIALL MCCLELLAND's work draws heavily on the symbolic languages of punk subcultures, as well as the iconography of protest and street aesthetics.
2012 Winner: Sean Martindale
2012 Finalist: Abbas Akhavan
Abbas is an Iranian, Toronto-based artist, with a history of international site-specific instillations. He is very concerned with "Place" and more recently with extinction and climate change relating to both plant and animal life.
2012 Finalist: Aleesa Cohene
2004 Winner: Mark Bell
2004 Finalist: Sally Späth
2001 Winner: Jay Wilson
2001 Finalist: Louise Lilliefeldt
2001 Finalist: David Armstrong-Six
The Founders Achievement Award of $15,000 acknowledges a person or organization that has, over time, made an exceptional contribution to the visual arts community in the GTA. A high level of accomplishment and achievement is recognized by the contribution on either a local level by positioning Toronto in a national or international context.
Over Philip Monk’s 40-year career he has been as a writer, curator, gallery director and teacher. As curator in a number of Canadian arts institutions, he has had a substantial impact. At the AGO, he crafted tightly focused exhibitions; at The Power Plant, he interpreted Toronto art in an international light and AGYU, he focused on the development of the gallery’s community outreach which is now a model in Canada. Philip curated challenging exhibitions that have referenced the diversity of the Canadian experience. Monk’s range of curating and directing is far-reaching and he would comment that, “each situation has demanded a different kind of exhibition making.”
Please see Philip’s Website.
Robert Houle is an artist, curator, writer, educator and critic. He is a graduate in art history from the University of Manitoba and in education from McGill. He leads a multi-faceted career exploring the nuances of history, identity, and conflict. A residential school survivor, Houle creates work that combines the preservation of Indigenous history with a thoughtful contemporary lens. He draws on Western art conventions to challenge the treatment of First Nations artists both in society and within our public and private gallery system. Houle has received many awards and citations, including two honorary doctorates and the 2015 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
Awarded to Dr Katharine Lochnan honouring her long and distinguished career. Dr Lochnan created the “Prints and Drawings” department of the Art Gallery of Ontario and became its curator in 1976. She also established the Martin Gelber Prints and Drawings Centre, one of only two open to the public in North America. She is widely known for the exhibitions she curated including the very well received and travelled “Whistler, Turner, Monet” and “Mystical Landscapes”. While retired from the AGO, she continues her academic pursuits.
Honoured for her distinguished career as a socially engaged multidisciplinary artist and writer, Vera Frenkel exhibited extensively in Canada, U.S. and Europe. Her work, addressing the forces at work in human migration, the learning and unlearning of cultural memory, and the ever-increasing bureaucratization of experience, continues to earn international respect.
Eberhard Zeidler and two of his daughters, Christina and Margie, were recognized for their landmark contributions to the architectural, civic and urban landscapes in Toronto.
MAIA SUTNIK’S distinguished career as curator of photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario commenced in 1979 when she developed the photography program that now numbers over 60,000 items of historical significance. The AGO has recognized her contribution by naming her its first Curator, Emeritus, Photography.
DAVID LISS was curator and artistic director of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. During his tenure, he developed MOCCA from an emerging gallery in North York to a Queen West institution widely recognized for its significant contributions to art and culture in Toronto and beyond. He established important partnerships with the National Gallery of Canada. TIFF and the ROM.
Lawyer STEPHEN SMART has quietly had a significant impact on the greater Toronto visual arts community, through his activities as a private collector, corporate collector, curator, lecturer, mentor and an institutional advocate.
Founders Awards were accorded between 2011 and 2014; after this date the award was merged with the Founders Achievement Award.
Project Support Awards provide seed money for highly original projects that will make a significant contribution to the visual arts community. Also included in the criteria are creativity, excellence and accessibility to the public.
This collaborative art-making project led to an outdoor installa-tion in the heart of Chinatown as part of 2021 Lunar New Year celebrations. A series of workshops led by lead artist Winnie Tru-ong and emerging-artist mentee Meegan Lim, resulted in a col-lective animation piece which was digitally projected and high-lighted onto a street-facing wall of the Chinese Gospel Church. It highlighted personal, cultural and historical themes tied to the Lunar New Year. STEPS develops one-of-a-kind community en-gaged installations, and public art plans that foster vibrant com-munities.
Photographer William Ukoh has been commissioned to produce a large-scale public art piece to be installed on the construc-tion hoarding directly outside the building at 524 Oakwood Ave-nue from April 2021 to late 2022. William's work will both extend conversations on the value of Black arts spaces, and add to con-versations surrounding the Black Canadian experience.
Inspirations Studio is a ceramics-based program meant to im-prove the lives for marginalized women who have been impacted by poverty, homelessness, physical and mental health and/or addictions.Through creative,therapeutic and skill building work, women gain a sense of self-confidence, dignity and stability.
Katherine Knight, film-maker creates a film based on artist Max Dean’s experience following his diagnosis of prostate cancer. Max is inspired to begin a new and all-consuming creative pro-ject that offers an unconventional first-hand account of a disease that affects one in six men. In Still Max, the artist enlists a team of discarded figures from a decommissioned amusement ride to help him negotiate his diagnosis. The question, “how do we fix ourselves?” is central to this emotional humanist portrait of crea-tivity, resilience, hope, art and cancer.
Support was awarded to the Toronto Biennial of Art (TBA) in the inaugural year of its three month, artist-centred, city-wide, multi-disciplinary arts project. Its principal locales were along the Toronto shoreline, and its curatorial framework informed by Indigenous history as well as recent settler, immigrant and refugee histories.
Toronto Biennial of Art
An award was given to The Don River Valley Art Program to support a reproduction of Sunrise, a work by noted Indigenous Artist Rita Letendre, to be installed at Evergreen Brick Works. The original Sunrise exists at Ryerson University but is currently obscured.
Evergreen Brick Works
Support was awarded to YYZ Publishing to support the inclusion of high quality colour images in its publication Community of Images: Strategies of Appropriation in Canadian Art, 1977 – 1990 by Art + Research initiatives Toronto, an important academic resource for teaching and research.
Project Support was awarded for for New Monuments for New Cities. As part of the Bentway contribution to the High Line Network Joint Art Initiative for the reuse of city infrastructure. Five artists from Toronto, Susan Blight, Coco Guzman, Life of a Craphead, An Te liu and Quentin VerCetty will join another twenty artists from New York City, Chicago, Austin and Houston Texas and see their work shown in each of the five cities in the months to come.
New Monuments for New Cities
The exhibition Ecologies of Landscape allowed nine artists to present their conception of the land and challenge the viewer to experience landscape in new and different ways.
Barbara Edwards Contemporary: Ecologies of Landscape
Support was provided for the exhibition Everyonce. It is intended to bring people together to discuss the ways sound affects one’s life and to propose alternative modes of engaging with sonic practices.
Trinity Square Video: Everyonce by Mitchell Akiyama
Public Studio received Project Support for Unsettled, an artist book project about their 57 day journey along the Bruce Trail.
Project Support was provided to the Bentway to support “Shadow", an installation by PUBLIC VISUALIZATOIN STUDIO for the inaugural winter season of this skating trail under Toronto's Gardiner Expressway.
Project Support was provided to Mercer Union to support the inaugural exhibition by Director of Exhibitions and Programs Julia Paoli, a collaboration with RAGGA NYC and local queer Caribbean artists.
Project Support was provided to MOCA Toronto for "When My Drums Come Knocking They Watch", a new work under the direction of NEP SIDHU to be part of the Museum's opening exhibition.
Project Support was provided to Whippersnapper Gallery, which over its 15 years, has assisted artists with resources and forging community, for the video screening component of 2018 projects with The Black Artist / Union.
AKIN PROJECTS for CAMH Youth Addiction & Concurrent Disorders Program. This project will provide 12 patient workshops with the artists, artist assistants and materials to patients in this program who need encouragement to learn to express themselves creatively.
GALLERY OF YORK UNIVERSITY (AGYU)'S director Philip Monk and curator Emile Changur curated the exhibition "Migrating the Margins". This exhibition and publication look at the condition of artist production reflecting the vast changes as a result of immigration and suburban living.
GALLERY 8eleven is an artist-run gallery committed to showing emerging and mid-career artists. Two exhibitions, "She Makes Two From One and One", the work of SHANNON GARDEN-SMITH and EMILY SMITDICKS, and 'Migration", the work of JEROME HAVRE are supported by the award.
BRETT DESPOTOVICH, created and produced Channel 2, a five-night, three hour performances of music, video art, guests and discussions in January 2017.
TFVA support will assist in the ambitious renovation of the fourth floor space at 401 Richmond St. to create a 7400 sq. ft. climate controlled, barrier-free arts space. At its heart will be a newly built Media-Arts Research and Exhibition common.
Support was given to "Showroom", the inaugural exhibition at the newly named Art Museum at the University of Toronto, curated by Sarah Robayo Sheridan.
"Chroma Lives" was an exhibition and research project by researcher Erin Alexa Freedman and artist Lili Huston-Herterich, creating a "living archive" of the 1983 exhibition "Chromaliving". Calling attention to the individuals behind the furnishings of "Chromaliving" and the subsequent generations of artists who work(ed) in this vein
ZUN LEE, a photographic artist, was awarded for his exhibition "Fade Resistance", a collection of thousands of Polaroid photographs depicting vibrant black family life. Lee is working toward an interactive digital archive of these photographs
The ACI is a non-profit bilingual educational organization, founded by Sara Angel in 2013, which creates authoritative and digitally accessible content on Canadian art history, available for free in both English and French for an international audience of thousands. This award enabled the ACI to create and publish the online art book "Joyce Weiland: Life & Work" by Dr. Joanne Sloan.
Kate Addleman-Frankel was the curator of the featured exhibition of the 2015 ScotiaBank Contact photography Festival "Bright Lights Dark City" which explains the history of the Niagara Custom Lab, the last lab that processes celluloid film for artists.
ART METROPOLE 's award was to contribute to their exciting opportunity to establish an auxiliary exhibition, event and retail space during construction of the newly refurbished Union Station with the generous support of Osmington Inc. Art Metropole, a non-profit organization, founded by General Idea in 1974, continues to serve local and international art communities with a focus on artist-initiated publications in any media.
Sitemedia received support for their film "Spring and Arnaud".
University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC) now known as The Art Museum at the University of Toronto, received support for SUZY LAKE'S "Political Poetics"
TASMAN RICHARDSON received support for the project "Necropolis"
Barbara Fischer received project support to curate MARK LEWIS' "Cold Morning".
Project support was given to Rhonda Corvese to curate the show "Remains To Be Seen".
Four graduates, one each from OCAD University, Faculty of Design; Ryerson University, School of Image Arts; University of Toronto, School of Architecture, Landscape & Design; and York University, Faculty of Fine Arts received a $5000 scholarship.
Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) published a catalogue accompanying the exhibition "Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove" by KRISTAN HORTON.
Bill Kirby at The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art received project support while residing in Toronto for developing the online CCCA Canadian Art Database/Base de Données sur l'art Canadien CACC.
Canadian Art Foundation Film Festival for Reel Artists.
JANET CARDIFF and GEORGES BURES-MILLER for "The Paradise Institute" at the Venice Biennale.