Visual arts students look to 1st art prize

By Samantha Juric

Exposure, prestige, cash.

It’s all on the line for three Humber artists participating in the annual BMO 1st Art! Competition.

It’s not quite The Hunger Games but the stakes are high for Humber artists Colin Frings, Brianne Whinfield and Shaun Reyes, all in their final year of the Visual and Digital Arts program.

The BMO 1st Art! Competition gives graduating post-secondary students across the nation the opportunity to have their work judged by the most distinguished members of the Canadian art world.

The panel of judges include big wigs such as Pip Day, the director and curator at the SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art in Montreal, Michelle LaValee, the associate curator at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Peter Dykhuis, artist and director at Dalhousie Art Gallery, and Michelle Jacques, the chief curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Noni Kaur, the program coordinator for the Visual and Digital Arts program at Humber, was instrumental in selecting the Humber competitors.

“This is going to put them into a totally different league,” said Kaur. “The competition will be about how they would like to see themselves as artists, what they would want to do. This is giving them that liberty and freedom to realize their potential.”

Graduating students are nominated by faculty members to contend for the $10,000 first prize.

The recipient of the first place prize will have their winning piece displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in October 2015 and it will become a part of the BMO’s corporate art collection.

Frings and Whinfield are contemplative of what they want their art to say.

Frings’ art often has an undertone of social commentary. He is a part of the LGBTQ community and the issue of gay rights weaves in and out of his work.

Whinfield’s pieces are influenced by the work of film director Tim Burton. She experiments with creature art in which she brings animals and imaginary beings to life through graphic design.

The three artists are communicating to possibly work on a collaborative piece with the intention to “bring a new face to the competition,” said Whinfield.

To the victor goes the spoils and both Whinfield and Frings have visualized plans for the $10,000 grand prize.

“I would use it for education and living,” said Frings. “I want to set myself up in Toronto,”

“(It seems like) a lot of money but when it comes to education it is not a lot at all,” said Whinfield. “I would use it towards debt and furthering my education.”

As the May 2015 deadline hurdles towards the Humber artists they are determined to find new and innovative ways to separate themselves from the herd of other hopeful contenders.