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2 of 8 Governor General’s Award winners grads

Faculty of Fine Arts grad Suzy Lake and Bill Vazan recognized for Visual and Media Arts
March 7, 2016
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By Howard Bokser

Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts alumni are on quite a winning streak. Among other top honours in 2015, Abbas Akhavan, BFA 04, won the $50,000 Sobey Art Award, one of the most distinguished awards in contemporary Canadian art, and Angela Grauerholz, MFA 82, took home the $50,000 Scotiabank Photography Award for excellence in Canadian contemporary photography.

Now two more Concordians have joined the winners’ circle. Suzy Lake, MFA 83, and William (Bill) Vazan, BA (fine arts) 70, are among the eight Canadian artists named recipients of 2016 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts from the Canada Council for the Arts.

The awards recognize outstanding career achievement and carry a $25,000 prize. The awards presentation ceremony will take place at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on March 23, 2016.

Performing Haute Couture #1, 2014, by Suzy Lake | Photo credit: Miguel Jacob Performing Haute Couture #1, 2014, by Suzy Lake | Photo credit: Miguel Jacob
Cobra Stand (for a Parallel World), 2001, Theban Hills, Egypt, by William Vazan | Photo courtesy of William Vazan Cobra Stand (for a Parallel World), 2001, Theban Hills, Egypt, by William Vazan | Photo courtesy of William Vazan
Suzy Lake Governor General’s Award winner Suzy Lake was the subject of a major mid-career retrospective, Point of Reference, organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in 1993. | Photo credit: Peter Rozek

Lake, an American-born resident of Toronto, was also recently nominated for a Scotiabank Photography Award. She is considered one of the first Canadian female artists to adopt performance, video and photography to explore the politics of gender, the body and identity.

“[She] has been a prescient image-maker — most often using herself as a model — who continues to interrogate ideas of beauty, aging and the self,” wrote Sophie Hackett and Georgiana Uhlyarik, associate curators of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Governor General’s Award winner Bill Vazan Governor General’s Award winner Bill Vazan is a Canadian leader in conceptual art and land art. | Phot credit: Julie Perron

Vazan was born in Toronto and now lives in Montreal. He has taught at Université du Québec à Montréal’s École des arts visuels et médiatiques for more than 30 years and is internationally recognized for his land art creations, sculpture, painting and photography.

“His artistic approach, which he began developing in the early 1960s, stems from deep thinking about existence and careful observation of the world around us through the relationships of human beings with their environment — whether natural, urban, social or cultural,” wrote Eve-Lyne Beaudry, curator of Contemporary Art at Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

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