Tribute Night 2021

Founders Achievement Award:
Philip Monk

Artist Prize Finalists:
Jen Aitken
Rouzbeh Akhbari
Melissa General
Oreka James
Shellie Zhang

Project Support:
STEPS Public Art
Mercer Union
NIA Public Art
Inspirations Studio
Katherine Knight at Site Media


Alice Adelkind, President of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts, is honoured to announce the meritorious recipients of $70,000 in awards.

Once again, we cannot gather at our annual May Tribute Night, the event that TFVA holds to celebrate our prize winners. So let’s all raise a glass and toast our Toronto talent from home.

Our Prize Committee Chairs: Harriet Stairs (Founders Achievement Award), Kaye Beeston (Project Support) and Sue Kidd (Artist Prize) along with their committees did their due diligence to research, analyze, present, vote, and award prizes based on merit.

Since our founding twenty-three years ago, the TFVA is proud to have awarded a million dollars in prize money to the visual arts in our community.

The Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts is an independent, membership based non-profit organization that promotes knowledge of the visual arts to its members through an extensive education program and provides support and recognition for artistic achievement to artists and art organizations in the GTA.




Founders Achievement Award: Harriet Stairs, Chair


$15,000 to Philip Monk

Over his distinguished 40-year career Philip Monk has been a writer, curator, gallery director and teacher. Monk is one of Canada’s most prolific art writers, producing fourteen books and countless catalogues, essays, articles and reviews. Thus far in his outstanding career, Philip has received numerous citations and awards including the 2017 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
To view Philip’s work please visit his website:

Click here to see Philip Monk’s words of thanks.



Artist Prize Finalists: Sue Kidd, Chair


$5,000 to 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.

To view Jen’s work please visit her website:

Click here to see Jen accept her award.


$5,000 to 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.
To view Rouzbeh’s work please visit his website:

Click here to see Rouzbeh accept his award.


$5,000 to 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.

This was the day Melissa accepted her award.


$5,000 to 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.
To view Oreka’s work please visit her website:

Click here to see Oreka accept her award.


$5,000 to 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.
To view Shellie’s work please visit her website:

Click here to see Shellie accept her award.




Project Support Awards: Kaye Beeston, chair


$12,000 to STEPS Public Art with lead artist Winnie Truong
Yue Moon: Animated Light was a collaborative art-making project that led to an outdoor installation in the heart of Chinatown as part of the 2021 Lunar New Year celebrations.

Click here to see Yue Moon: Animated Light video

To learn more about STEPS Public Art please visit their website:

Click here to see Bebhinn Jennings, Program Director, accept the award on behalf of STEPS Public Art.


$10,000 to Mercer Union: a centre for contemporary art
Mercer Union developed a strong online presence to enhance the viewers experience and appreciation of Erdem Taşdelen’s exhibition, A Minaret for the General’s Wife.

To learn more about Mercer Union please visit their website:

Click here to see Julia Paoli, Director & Curator, accept the award on behalf of Mercer Union.


$4,000 to Nia Centre for the Arts
Photographer William Ukoh has been commissioned to produce a large-scale public art piece to be installed on the construction hoarding surrounding the new 14,000 square foot Nia Centre.

To learn more about Nia Centre for the Arts please visit their website:

Click here to see Alica Hall, Executive Director, accept the award on behalf of Nia Centre for the Arts.


$2,250 to Inspirations Studio
A pottery wheel has been purchased for the Studio’s ceramics-based program. This program is designed to improve the lives of marginalized women.

To learn more about Inspirations Studio please visit their website:

Click here to see Isabella Tatar, Co-Coordinator of Inspirations Studio, accept the award on behalf of Inspirations Studio.


$1750 to Site Media Inc. for the film Still Max
Still Max is directed and produced by Katherine Knight, winner of the Rogers Audience Award for top Canadian features for Ontario at the 2021 Hot Docs Festival, and focuses on the experiences of artist Max Dean following his diagnosis with prostate cancer. Max is inspired to begin a new and all-consuming creative project that offers an unconventional first-hand account of this disease.

To learn more about Site Media please visit their website:
To learn more about Katherine Knight please visit her website:

Click here to see Katherine Knight accept the award.




Congratulations one and all! We hope next year to be together in person for Tribute Night, on May 10, 2022. Save the date.
Until we can meet again, be well, stay safe, and invest in art. Art has played a vital role in our lives during this year of lockdowns. By looking and trying to SEE art, we can feel transported, inspired, and even encouraged to begin meaningful discussions.

Alice Adelkind,
President, TFVA



Recent Articles

Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Announces the 2024 Artist Prize Award Winners

Posted Feb 29th, 2024 • 4 min read
Rita Daniel, President of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts, recently announced the recipients of the 2024 TFVA Artists Prize Winners. [...]

View Article

Our Prize Winners in the News! February 2024 Edition

Posted Feb 27th, 2024 • 3 min read
This edition in particular demonstrates the impact of our artists world-wide. If you are travelling, make note! Oreka James – Artist Prize Finalist [...]

View Article

Our Prize Winners in the News – January 2024 Edition

Posted Jan 19th, 2024 • 3 min read
TFVA prizewinners are very busy at the beginning of 2024 – read all about them! Sandra Brewster – Artist Prize Winner 2018 Sandra Brewster works [...]

View Article