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BMO Announces Winners For BMO 1st Art! Awards-Canada's Emerging Student Artists

- Prize money doubled this year to mark tenth anniversary of Awards

- National winner receives $10,000 prize and 12 regional winners from across Canada receive recognition and reward for their exceptional creativity from the 10th annual BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 15, 2012) - BMO Financial Group today announced one national and 12 regional winners of the BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition. As Canada's only national graduating artist competition, BMO 1st Art! honours visual arts excellence in post-secondary institutions from coast to coast. This year's winners were selected from 235 entries.

Deans and instructors of undergraduate certificate, diploma, and degree arts programs are invited to select three graduating students who stand out from among their peers due to their skill and imagination. A panel of esteemed judges chooses an overall national winner and one winner from each eligible province and territory.

In celebration of this year's 10th anniversary for BMO 1st Art! the prize money has doubled. The national winner now receives $10,000 and the regional winners each receive $5,000. As the ultimate accolade, the national winner's artwork becomes part of the BMO Corporate Art Collection, which includes historical and contemporary Canadian masters such as Kenojuak Ashevak, Emily Carr, Paterson Ewen, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Lawren Harris, Ian Wallace and many others.

The remarkable works produced by the 2012 winners cover a range of themes in a variety of media. They include:

  • A diptych revealing a glimpse into the lives of Québécois retirees in Florida, as part of an in-depth visual exploration of identity and culture;
  • A self-portrait in charcoal, capturing vivid dream imagery and a sense of falling that expresses time as frozen yet eternal;
  • Three snarling coyote heads in the form of a headpiece representing the fierce side of the artist and functioning as a healing, emotional prosthetic;
  • A series of metallic c-prints investigating the ideas of knowledge creation and the archaeology of the universe based on man-made and naturally occurring mounds;
  • A sculpture of cinder blocks made of plaster, plywood and sawdust that raises questions about the purpose of boundaries and how they define space;
  • And oil-based mono-prints of faceless military soldiers falling in battle that provoke conversation about the aesthetic desensitization in video gamer culture.

"This year's BMO 1st Art! submissions once again demonstrate the impressive scope and breadth of the young, artistic talent that exists across Canada," said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group, BMO Financial Group. "We recognize the passion and focus that these emerging artists put into each piece and we are proud to present their artwork to a public audience in the hopes of empowering and encouraging each of them to pursue their artistic dreams."

2012 Winners
BMO 1st Art! 2012 National Winner: Mika Goodfriend, Concordia University
BMO 1st Art! 2012 Regional Winners:
Alberta Noor ul Ain, Alberta College of Art & Design
British Columbia Yi Xin Tong, Simon Fraser University
Manitoba Agnes Neufeld, University of Manitoba
New Brunswick Nathan Cann, Mount Allison University
Newfoundland & Labrador Diana Chisholm, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University
Nova Scotia Jessie Babin, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design
Nunavut Lavinia Van Heuvelen, Nunavut Arctic College
Ontario Sarah Beattie, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University
Prince Edward Island Adnan Saciragic, Holland College
Quebec Jean-Michel Leclerc, Université du Québec à Montréal
Saskatchewan Anita Miles, University of Regina
Yukon Territory Kristen Poenn, Yukon School of Visual Arts

"BMO 1st Art! provides an unprecedented platform for Canada's graduating artists to showcase their unique works to a broader audience including the Canadian public and art industry experts and professionals," said Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Financial Group, Corporate Art Collection.

Representing the best of Canada's newest generation of artists, all of the BMO 1st Art! winners' works will be on display at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), 952 Queen Street West in Toronto from October 3 - 28, 2012.

The winning pieces can also be viewed on BMO Financial Group's website here.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $477 billion as at October 31, 2011, and more than 47,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

For more than 194 years, BMO Financial Group has believed in community reinvestment and corporate and social responsibility in the communities it serves. In 2011, BMO contributed more than $66.4 million in donations, sponsorships and events in Canada and the United States to groups, organizations and programs that help build and sustain resilient, vital and healthy communities.

For further information:
Media Inquiries:
BMO Financial Group
Beja Rodeck, Toronto
(416) 867-3996

Valerie Doucet, Montreal
(514) 877-8224

Laurie Grant, Vancouver
(604) 665-7596

To arrange to speak with any of the winners, please contact:
Holly Beetham