Skip navigation
Navigation skipped

News Releases

Promising Artists from Across the Country Shine in 13th Annual BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition

- The national winner will receive a $10,000 award; the 12 regional winners from across Canada will each be awarded $5,000

- 13 winning works will be showcased from October 22 to December 18, 2015 at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 4, 2015) - BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) today announced the winners of the 13th annual BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition, honouring visual arts excellence in post-secondary institutions from coast to coast.

Representing the best of Canada's next generation of artists, the national winner and 12 regional winners were selected from 263 entries, one of the highest submission numbers since the competition started in 2003.

Presented annually, BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition is part of BMO's ongoing commitment to and support of emerging artists. More than $530,000 has been awarded to winners to date.

The national winner receives $10,000 and regional winners each receive $5,000. All of the BMO 1st Art! winners' works will be on display at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto, from October 22 to December 18, 2015.

As well, the national winner's artwork becomes part of the BMO Corporate Art Collection, which includes works by historical and contemporary Canadian masters such as Kenojuak Ashevak, Emily Carr, Paterson Ewen, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Lawren Harris, Wanda Koop, Micah Lexier, Kent Monkman, Ian Wallace and many others.

"We take pride in our longstanding commitment to fostering up-and-coming artists in our country," said Gilles Ouellette, Group Head, BMO Wealth Management. "Congratulations to this year's winners on their work, enthusiasm and dedication to the arts."

"Each year this competition challenges the jury members with the difficult task of selecting 13 winners from high-calibre submissions in a wide range of media," said Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Financial Group, Corporate Art Collection. "For the winners, this achievement is the culmination of hard work as they complete their undergraduate studies. An extraordinary level of creativity and skill has been present since the inaugural year, and the event continues to raise awareness of the remarkable talent present in Canada."

Deans and instructors of undergraduate certificate, diploma, and degree arts programs from more than 100 Canadian colleges and universities were invited to select three outstanding graduating students from each of their studio specialties to make submissions to the competition. The following panel of esteemed judges chose an overall national winner and one winner from each eligible province and territory:

  • Pip Day, Director/Curator, SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art
  • Peter Dykhuis, Artist and Director, Dalhousie Art Gallery
  • Michelle Jacques, Chief Curator, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
  • Michelle LaVallee, Associate Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery

The 2015 BMO 1st Art! winners are:

National Winner

Tamara Himmelspach, Alberta College of Art & Design

Regional Winners

Alberta: Svea Ferguson, Alberta College of Art & Design

British Columbia: Richard Heikkilä-Sawan, Emily Carr University of Art & Design

Manitoba: Yucen Zhou, University of Manitoba

New Brunswick: Jasmine Keillor, Mount Allison University

Newfoundland & Labrador: Alex Noel, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Nova Scotia: Connie Lynn Higgs, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design

Nunavut: Ramona Barkhouse, Nunavut Arctic College

Ontario: Lindsey Wilson, Queen's University

Prince Edward Island: Jude Scheppele, Holland College

Quebec: Erin Skelton, Concordia University

Saskatchewan: Shelby Lechman, University of Saskatchewan

Yukon: Jon Iñaki Etxeberria Vanneste, Yukon School of Visual Arts

The diverse works produced by the 2015 winners cover a range of themes in a variety of media. They include:

  • A multimedia performance work consisting of documentary photographs and a jingle dress, beaded purse and moccasins fashioned from cotton and polyester, unfired clay, deerhide and beads that speaks to the regeneration of community, culture, the self and the connection with Mother Earth (Himmelspach, National Winner);
  • An enigmatic wall work that explores the potential of linoleum flooring to transform and transcend its material nature, mimicking the rendering of drapery in classical marble sculpture (Ferguson, Alberta);
  • A large-scale oil on canvas painting relating the poignant and powerful story of the Hungarian Revolution (Lechman, Saskatchewan);
  • An installation of doctored and digitally manipulated archival, found and original photographs portraying how technological limitations distort ideas of history (Vannesta, Yukon); and
  • A sculpture created from steel, porcelain, pigmented encaustic, cotton cord, and silicone, evoking the infinite possibilities that exist both inside and outside of life experiences (Skelton, Quebec).

To view the winning pieces on BMO Financial Group's website, please visit:

To download images of this year's award winning works, click here.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider based in North America. With total assets of approximately $633 billion as of April 30, 2015, and more than 47,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

For further information:
Media Contacts:
Tracy Truong, BMO Financial Group
(416) 867-3996

Valerie Doucet, BMO Financial Group
(514) 877-8224

To arrange to speak with any of the winners, please contact:
Daniel French, Touchwood PR
(416) 593-0777 ext. 205