Mi'kmaq artist repeat winner of Visual Artists Large Year award

Tara Bradbury
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Jordan Bennett admits he's a little overwhelmed by the success he's been having recently. Bennett, 25, is a Stephenville Crossing native and a multi-disciplinary artist who does sculpture, painting, performance, installation and digital media, inspired by themes from his Mi'kmaq heritage.

Late last month, Bennett was presented with the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's Arts Award for CBC Emerging Artist of the Year, having made the shortlist two years straight. Friday evening, he was announced the winner of Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador's Large Year award, during a ceremony at The Rooms in St. John's.

Bennett had made the shortlist along with artists Margaret Best and Kay Burns.

"It's pretty awesome. It's really a huge honour to win two in a row," he told The Telegram. "Getting recognized by my fellow artists does mean a lot to me."

The young artist, who has shown his work across Europe and North America, will leave for B.C. next month. Within a two-week span, he'll have his first solo exhibition at Alternator Gallery in Kelowna and another show in Medicine Hat, and will travel to New York, where he's taking part in "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation."

The exhibition, at New York City's Museum of Art and Design, is a show of contemporary Native American, First Nations and Inuit art from the northeast and southeast.

Bennett's piece for the show, "Reappropropriating the Wheel," is based on sculptor Marcel Duchamp's 1913 piece "Bicycle Wheel," incorporating sound.

Bennett's prize for the Large Year award, which celebrates a visual artist who has enjoyed an exceptional year, is $1,000. It was one of five awards presented Friday night, during the seventh annual Excellence in Visual Arts awards.

The Emerging Artist Award was presented to Philippa Jones, an artist whose work includes printmaking and new media installations, among other forms. Others on the shortlist were Stephen Dunn and Mike Gough.

The Long Haul Award, recognizing the work of a senior artist, was presented to Christopher Pratt, who had been shortlisted alongside Manfred Bucheit and Diana Dabinett.

The Kippy Goins award - so named for the pieces of wood one throws on a fire to keep it going - recognizes an individual or organization who has helped sustain the visual arts sector, and was presented to Caroline Stone. The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Labrador Creative Arts Festival were also shortlisted.

The Critical Eye award, recognizing a visual arts writer for an exceptional piece of writing on a local artist in print or online, was presented to Joan Sullivan. Robert Finley also made the shortlist.

Realist painter Mary Pratt was also honoured during the ceremony with an honorary life membership in the Society of Canadian Artists.

tbradbury@thetelegram.com Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, Bennett's, The Rooms The Telegram Museum of Art and Design First Nations Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Stephenville Crossing, New York City St. John's Europe North America B.C. Kelowna Medicine Hat

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