Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Halifax’s Ursula Johnson wins $50,000 Sobey Art Award

Ursula Johnson has won the 2017 Sobey Art Award.

Rita Taylor/Banff Centre for the Arts

Ursula Johnson, a Halifax-based multidisciplinary artist whose work considers the legacy of colonization, has won the 2017 Sobey Art Award. The $50,000 prize, Canada's most prestigious honour for young contemporary artists, was awarded Wednesday night at the University of Toronto.

Johnson, 37, was born in Sydney, N.S., and is an artist of Mi'kmaq First Nation ancestry. Her creative output includes sculpture, music, printmaking and performance art.

"This means that I will now have the tremendous opportunity to work on a larger scale and expand the reach of my work to a broader community, while exploring more diversity in materials and content as well as beginning to create a network of collaborators internationally," Johnson said in a statement.

Story continues below advertisement

Johnson prevailed over four other finalists from across the country to capture this year's Sobey award. Started in 2001 by the Nova Scotia-based Sobey Art Foundation, the honour goes to a Canadian artist under the age of 40 who has participated in a public or commercial gallery within 18 months of being nominated.

Each of the remaining finalists – Raymond Boisjoly, Jacynthe Carrier, Divya Mehra and Bridget Moser – receive $10,000, with all having their work exhibited at the Art Museum of the University of Toronto through Dec. 9.

The prize's selection committee, chaired by Josee Drouin-Brisebois, senior curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Canada, highlighted Johnson's "strong voice, her generosity and collaborative spirit."

"Through her work, she redefines traditional materials and re-imagines colonized histories," the committee said in a statement.

Past winners of the Sobey Art Award include David Altmejd, Duane Linklater, and the late Annie Pootoogook.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Barry Hertz is the deputy arts editor and film editor for The Globe and Mail. He previously served as the Executive Producer of Features for the National Post, and was a manager and writer at Maclean’s before that. His arts and culture writing has also been featured in several publications, including Reader’s Digest and NOW Magazine. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨