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Canada's Brightest Young Artists Celebrated in 15th Annual BMO 1st Art! Competition
  • BMO Financial Group announces one national winner and 12 regional winners
  • National winner wins $15,000; regional winners each win $7,500
  • All winning works will be showcased from November 16 to December 16, 2017 at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto

TORONTO, Aug. 3, 2017 /CNW/ -  BMO Financial Group today announced the winners of its annual BMO 1st Art! competition. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the initiative recognizes visual arts excellence amongst post-secondary school students from across Canada.

Winners were selected from 303 entries from across the country, the highest number of submissions since the competition began in 2003. This year, the prize value is $15,000 for the national winner and $7,500 for each of the 12 regional winners. All of the BMO 1st Art! winning works will be displayed at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto, from November 16 to December 16, 2017.

"From Canada's 150th, to BMO's 200th, to this competition's 15th, there are many important milestones to celebrate this year," said Gilles Ouellette, Group Head, BMO Asset Management. "BMO is proud to continue supporting this country's substantial artistic community and provide a platform for those within it. Congratulations to this year's winners on their works and dedication to the arts."

"Since this competition's inaugural year, we have been privileged to celebrate and share the works of 198 promising young artists from across the country," said Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Corporate Art Collection. "Over the past 15 editions of the competition, we have been captivated by the creative range and artistic vision represented in the submissions we receive each year. We look forward to providing this unique opportunity to students for years to come."

Deans and instructors of undergraduate certificate, diploma, and degree arts programs from colleges and universities across the country were invited to select three outstanding graduating students from each of their studio specialties to make submissions to the competition.

The 2017 BMO 1st Art! winners are:

National Winner

  • Xiao Xue, University of Victoria

Regional Winners

  • Dylan Cameron, Alberta College of Art & Design (Alberta)
  • James Fermor, University of Victoria (British Columbia)
  • Chelsey Thiessen, University of Manitoba (Manitoba)
  • Emily Blair, New Brunswick College of Craft & Design (New Brunswick)
  • Lauren Brinson, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Annabel Biro, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University (Nova Scotia)
  • Anne Qammaniq-Hellwig, Nunavut Arctic College (Nunavut)
  • Jessica Peterson, Queen's University (Ontario)
  • Aidan Searle, Holland College (Prince Edward Island)
  • Laure Bourgault, Université du Québec à Montréal (Quebec)
  • Audie Murray, University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
  • Kayza DeGraff-Ford, Yukon School of Visual Arts (Yukon)

The diverse works produced by the 2017 winners cover a range of themes in a variety of media. Highlights include:

  • A project concept for the creation of a walking camper, inspired by the urge to find solutions to the negative impacts of unnecessary waste. The project presentation includes a large digital photograph with design plans and a wooden maquette (Xiao Xue, National winner)
  • An oil painting that explores the practical applications of the body as a valid knowledge producer and attempts to visually represent how the body processes its environment (Jessica Peterson, Ontario winner)
  • A bleached and rusted denim tapestry framed around the resignification of common objects, materials, and symbols (Dylan Cameron, Alberta winner)
  • A set of custom-built tin cans connected by cotton rope exploring experiences of personal communication through the everyday objects that facilitate them (Lauren Brinson, Newfoundland & Labrador winner)
  • A set of three Qaururiit - traditional Inuit headbands - created using a combination of copper, Dix-gold, sterling silver, glass beads, seal bones, and pearls, showcasing different eras of Inuit life (Anne Qammaniq-Hellwig, Nunavut winner)

The following panel of esteemed judges chose the winners:

  • Hugues Charbonneau, Director, Galerie Hugues Charbonneau
  • Naomi Potter, Director/Curator, Esker Foundation
  • Pan Wendt, Curator, Confederation Centre Art Gallery
  • Kim Simon, Curator, Gallery TPW
  • Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Corporate Art Collection

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

About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817, and currently marking its 200th year of operations, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider based in North America. With total assets of $719 billion as of April 30, 2017, and more than 45,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial 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.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: To arrange to speak with any of the winners, please contact: Daniel French, Touchwood PR,, 416.593.0777 ext. 205; BMO Financial Group, Alicia Skrinjar, BMO Financial Group,, 416.867.3996