Vancouver Photographer Sandra Semchuk Wins Governor General’s Award

by Photo Life

Sandra Semchuk, In Baba’s Bedroom, Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, 1977, silver gelatin print, 27.94 cm x 35.56 cm. National Gallery of Canada collection.

Vancouver photographer Sandra Semchuk has been recognized as one of the winners of the 2018 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, organized and funded by the Canada Council of Canada. Curator Andrea Kunard noted that Semchuk’s “take on photography as collaborative project is a vital contribution to the medium.” Winners will receive a $25,000 cash prize, and their work will be exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa from March 29 through August 5.

Sandra Semchuk, Self Portraits, 1977-1981, silver gelatin print, 27.94 cm x 35.56 cm each print. Remai Modern (formerly Mendel Art Gallery) collection.


Sandra Semchuk // Courtesy of Canada Council for the Arts.


Sandra Semchuk is a Ukrainian Canadian photographer and video artist born in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. She was a co-founder of the Photographers Gallery artist run gallery in Saskatoon.

Semchuk often works collaboratively using the familial, autobiography, and dialogue across generations, cultures and species. She worked collaboratively for fifteen years with her late husband, James Nicholas, Rock Cree actor and orator, to consider potential conciliations within the self and between the indigenous and non-indigenous. Their dialogue was grounded in experience–in the primary knowledges of place–land, flora and fauna and weather–and in human stories. The wider-than-human is the larger context. In her most recent 3D stereographic video poems she collaborates to resuscitate familial connections with the tree and forest.

Semchuk’s book on the internment of Ukrainians in Canada: The Stories Were Not Told, Canada’s WW I Internment Camps will be published by the University of Alberta Press in 2018. This book brings together stories by internees and descendants with Semchuk’s photographs, cross cultural writing and historical documents.

Semchuk has exhibited her work and collaborations at Presentation House, the Belkin, Vancouver and Comox Valley Art Galleries, British Columbia, the Photographers Gallery, the Mendel, Chapel, Mann, Godfrey Dean and McKenzie Art Galleries of Saskatchewan, Urban Shaman in Manitoba, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ottawa, the Center for Creative Photography, Arizona, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, fotofeis in Scotland and the Museu D’art Contemporani in Spain.

Sandra teaches at Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

Sandra Semchuk (collaboration with James Nicholas), Confederation, 2007-2014, five Light jet photographs, 76.2 cm x 95.25 cm each print. Image 3 Text by James Nicholas “I was wondering why we weren’t invited to the ball.”

Related Articles