Photographer Jeff Thomas Wins Governor General’s Award

by Photo Life

Jeff Thomas, The Doctrine of Discovery, 2018, pigment print, 50.8 cm x 127 cm. Collection of the artist

The Canada Council for the Arts has revealed the winners of the 2019 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. This year, eight artists are being honoured with these awards for their exceptional careers, and among them is photographer Jeff Thomas.

The winners were selected by a peer committee. In recognition of their excellent work, the artists will receive a $25,000 prize and a bronze medallion at a celebration to take place on March 28 at Rideau Hall. Additionally, some of their works will be displayed at the National Gallery of Canada in the coming months. What’s more, original short films featuring each of the artists have been created in their honour.

Jeff Thomas is a self-taught photo-based artist, writer, public speaker, and curator. He has works in major collections in Canada, the United States and Europe. Jeff’s solo shows include Birdman Rising, A Necessary Fiction: My Conversation with Edward S. Curtis & George Hunter, The Dancing Grounds, and Resistance Is NOT Futile. He has also been in many group shows, including The Family Camera; Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989; Land/Slide: Possible Futures; SAKAHÀN; and UNMASKING: Arthur Renwick, Adrian Stimson, Jeff Thomas. He has received the Canada Council’s Duke and Duchess of York Award in Photography, the Karsh Award in photography, and a REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, and he has been inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Art. An urban-based Iroquois, Jeff was born in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

“There is no one I admire more than Jeff Thomas. His intelligence, generosity and integrity underpin and inform every aspect of his art, which he uses to make sense of and improve the world. Jeff’s work has changed how we see the world and given us intellectual tools for critical agency that we cannot afford to be without.”

— Dr. Richard Hill, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Studies, Emily Carr University of Art & Design

The public viewing of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts exhibition, showing some of the winners’ selected works, will be held in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa. The exhibition will be on display at the Gallery until August 5, 2019. Curators are Adam Welch, Associate Curator, Canadian Art; Nicole Burisch, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art; and Jasmine Inglis, Curatorial Assistant, Indigenous Art.

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. The Council promotes and financially supports artistic excellence by offering Canadian professional artists and artistic organizations a broad range of grants, services, prizes and fees. Its work ensures that excellent, vibrant and diverse art and literature engages Canadians, enriches their communities and reaches markets around the world. The Council also raises public awareness and appreciation of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities. The Council operates the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes UNESCO’s values and programs in Canada, in order to contribute to a future of peace, equity and sustainable development. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.

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