Shelley Niro wins the $50,000 Scotiabank Photography Award

Two Concordians, Donigan Cumming and Raymonde April, are finalists
May 10, 2017
By Andy Murdoch

The Rebel (1987) by Shelly Niro | Image courtesy of the artist The Rebel (1987) by Shelly Niro | Image courtesy of the artist

Last night, the jury for the 2017 Scotiabank Photography Award announced a winner: multidisciplinary artist Shelley Niro.

"Shelley's art provides us with an enriched view on contemporary Indigenous life, and connects us with a better understanding of these communities," said jury chair Edward Burtynsky.

The two 2017 finalists were both Concordians. Graduate Donigan Cumming (MFA 85) and Raymonde April, professor of photography and former chair of the Department of Studio Arts, each take home $10,000.

Niro receives a cash prize of $50,000; a solo exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre; a primary exhibition at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival; and a book of her work published and distributed worldwide by German publisher Gerhard Steidl.

Niro's work was recently on display at Concordia's Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, as part of Sovereign Acts II, and her image 'The Rebel' was central to a 2015 exhibition at the university's FOFA Gallery.

“Shelley Niro is so deserving of this award,” said Jennifer Dorner, director of the FOFA Gallery.

The 'Mona Lisa' of Canada

At the FOFA Gallery, Niro's image 'The Rebel' inspired The Rebel Yells: Dress and Political Re-dress in Contemporary Indigenous Art, which examined its influence on subsequent generations of Indigenous artists.

“Many visitors commented that 'The Rebel' is the 'Mona Lisa' of Canada,” Dorner says.

It's been a banner year for Niro. In February, she won a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, following a nomination by Rebel Yells co-curator Lori Beavis (PhD 16).


"Tout Embrasser" (Photographie 2001-2015) by Raymonde April | Courtesy of the artist "Tout Embrasser" (Photographie 2001-2015) by Raymonde April | Courtesy of the artist

Raymonde April

Raymonde April is currently curating a public art exhibition called Outre-vie / Afterlife for the FOCUS Photography Festival in Mumbai.

April received the Order of Canada in 2010. The award recognized her contribution to the country’s evolution of documentary photography, in particular her incorporation of self-portraiture and details from daily life.

Her works, which include publications and films, have been featured in national and international exhibitions, and acquired by prominent museums. Constantly on the lookout for new artistic avenues, April co-founded one of Canada’s first artist-run centres, La Chambre Blanche.

In 2003, she received the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas, which is the highest distinction accorded by the Government of Quebec to an artist working in the visual arts.


Video still from "Out of Kerr’s Suitcase" (2016) by Donigan Cumming | Courtesy of the artist Video still from "Out of Kerr’s Suitcase" (2016) by Donigan Cumming | Courtesy of the artist

Donigan Cumming

Concordia alumnus Donigan Cumming uses photography, video, painting, drawing, sound and text in multimedia artworks and installations.

His photographs and videos are grounded in issues of representation and test the boundaries between truth and fiction. They address themes of memory and mourning, the aging body, economic disparity, visual taboos and empathetic engagement.

Widely exhibited in Europe, Asia and North America, Cumming’s work is recognized internationally for its forthright and compassionate representation of humanity and its forgotten members.

More about the Scotiabank Photography Award

The 2017 Scotiabank Photography Award shortlist was selected by a panel of leading curators, photographers, artists, gallery directors, art writers, professors and critics, including Wanda Nanibush, who curated Sovereign Acts II at Concordia's Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, and Heather Igloliorte, assistant professor in the Department of Art History.

In 2016, the prize went to alumna Suzy Lake (MFA 83), marking three consecutive triumphs for Concordians. Angela Grauerholz won in 2015; she was preceded by Mark Ruwedel in 2014.

Find out more about photography at Concordia.


Back to top

© Concordia University