New Concordia grad Clara Couzino wins top prize in the Canada-wide BMO 1st Art! contest
“I said to them: ‘Okay, I’m going to email the information you’re asking me for because I can’t talk right now…’” recalls Couzino, who specialized in sculpture as part of her bachelor’s degree in studio arts. “It’s really an honour to win this prize — I think it’s going to help my career a lot.”
BMO 1st Art! is an annual contest that celebrates the creativity of Canadian art school students from more than 100 post-secondary institutions from coast to coast.
Couzino’s artwork, “Objectifier l’écriture,” beat out 266 other submissions to claim the $15,000 national prize. The competition also gives out 12 regional awards valued at $7,500 each.
For Couzino, receiving this distinction is a testament to her time at Concordia.
“The university really helped me develop my practice,” she says. “You’re constantly talking about your art, and reflecting on it. Plus, you’re surrounded with a lot of people creating so many different things.”
‘I’m attracted to art that is accessible’
“Objectifier l’écriture” is a multidisciplinary piece that plays with the viewer’s perception. The artwork resembles a flat sheet of lined paper, but its painted objects and shelves actually come out of the white wall that serves as its background.
Depending on where an observer stands, the composition can shift between 2D and 3D.
“The presentation of a work is really important for me — it makes all the difference,” says Couzino. “I also think it makes it more playful because it’s an object that everyone can recognize. We’ve all worked with lined sheets at some point.”
Couzino often uses found objects in her installations because she feels they punctuate her life in many ways. Collectively, the component parts of “Objectifier l’écriture” form a larger message because each one represents a letter of the alphabet.
Recently, Couzino was thrilled to hear that someone had decoded her artwork after she posted a picture of it on her Instagram account.
“I’m attracted to creating art that is accessible,” she says. “I integrated text so that it was easier to understand parts of the process, and where the ideas came from.”
‘There are a lot of opportunities — take them!’
Couzino plans to use the prize money to produce new works and apply for a variety of residencies. She is enthusiastic about this next stage in her artistic career.
“I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was a child, and I’ve had a pretty straight path,” Couzino says. “It’s not like that for everybody. I often hear from others that it takes a lot of time before they finally settle into the art world.”
In 2017, Couzino’s work was included in an exhibition at Art Mur called Fresh Paint / New Construction. “Objectifier l’écriture” was also recently selected for an upcoming FOFA Gallery show in January 2019.
When she looks back on her four years at Concordia, Couzino particularly appreciates her sculpture courses because they gave her a chance to work freely, but with focus and the support of her peers.
Her advice for current students? Take advantage of everything Concordia and Montreal’s flourishing art scenes have to offer.
“Concordia really gave me the opportunity to create more, which is helpful because it’s sometimes harder to achieve things on your own,” Couzino says.
“One of the biggest parts of my education was participating in life at Concordia outside of class — I really learned a lot from that. There are a lot of opportunities, and you have to take them!”
Learn more about Concordia’s Department of Studio Arts.