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BMO 1st Art! winners selected from a record number of submissions
  • BMO Financial Group announces one national winner and 12 regional winners for its 19th annual BMO 1st Art! competition
  • $15,000 awarded to the national winner; $7,500 awarded to each regional winner
  • All selected works to be showcased in free virtual exhibition hosted by The Art Museum at the University of Toronto from November 16 to December 8 at

Still image from National Winner Father Like Son (film) by Anna Kuelken, NSCAD University, Nova Scotia (CNW Group/BMO Financial Group)

TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2021 /CNW/ - BMO Financial Group today announced the winners of its 19th annual BMO 1st Art! competition, celebrating outstanding achievements in visual arts among undergraduate students from across Canada. Selected from a record-breaking pool of 336 submissions, each of the 12 regional winners will receive a cash prize of $7,500 with $15,000 awarded to the national winner.

This year marks the first time in competition history that a time-based media project has won the national prize. NSCAD graduate Anna Kuelken's nationally winning film submission Father Like Son takes an intimate look into daily life on her small family farm in Alberta. As her young niece and nephew grow and integrate into the farm, they are faced with difficult lessons about empathy and where their food comes from.

The annual competition invites deans and instructors from 110 undergraduate art programs across Canada to nominate three students from each of their studio specialties to submit a recent work. An esteemed panel of jurors selected this year's winning works from a pool of a record 336 submissions. Competition guidelines allow for time-based media including video, film, audio, and computer technologies, in addition to mediums of drawing, printmaking, photography, painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics, textiles, mixed media, and installation works.

Following the success of the competition's first-ever virtual exhibition last year, BMO 1st Art! will once again host its annual gallery exhibition through the University of Toronto's Virtual Art Museum, The exhibition will showcase all 13 winning works from November 16 to December 8, 2021.

"BMO's commitment to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life includes long-standing support for community arts, culture and programs like the 1st Art! competition," said Cameron Fowler, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, BMO Financial Group. "We are thrilled to recognize this year's impressive group of winners as some of the best and brightest emerging artists across Canada. Having their achievement selected by this respected jury of artists, curators and arts educators is an immense achievement that we hope will bring a future of success in the arts to these talented winners."

"With schools and art studios being shut down for the past year, this year's winners had to overcome unprecedented circumstances to excel at their craft," said Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Art Collection. "We are grateful for the opportunity to share their exceptional works with fellow art lovers from coast to coast to coast in a virtual exhibition format."

Full list of 2021 BMO 1st Art! winners:

National Winner

  • Anna Kuelken, "Father Like Son", NSCAD University (Nova Scotia)

Regional Winners

  • Kev Liang, "Jiā yóu", University of Alberta (Alberta)
  • Shannon Pahladsingh, "oh, thank goodness", University of the Fraser Valley (British Columbia)
  • Tayler Buss, "Rearview", University of Manitoba (Manitoba)
  • Alana Morouney, "I'll get you next time/I keep letting you win so that I can hold your hand", Mount Allison University (New Brunswick)
  • Bethany MacKenzie, "What Will the Worms Think of Me?", Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Max TS. Yang, "A Family of III", NSCAD University (Nova Scotia)
  • Erin Faulks, "The Pandemicock", Nunavut Arctic College (Nunavut)
  • Allysha Jacque, "kâvunga", York University (Ontario)
  • Price, "Egg and Chain", Holland College (Prince Edward Island)
  • Maggy Hamel-Metsos, "No Place to Stand", Concordia University (Quebec)
  • Holly Aubichon, "Modern Medicine", University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
  • Juliet Di Carlo, "Consume in a way that makes it look Authentic", Yukon School of Visual Arts (Yukon)

Other highlighted works include:

  • "oh, thank goodness is a spoken word poem addressing institutional covert racism and the artist's lived experiences of exploitation, objectification and minimization as a queer, nonbinary person of colour in a white workplace. Placing a seemingly innocent sentence in this context, she asks if such microaggressions can be labelled as "micro" when the experience for Indigenous, Black, and people of colour is macro." (Shannon Pahladsingh, British Columbia winner)
  • "Modern Medicine is an oil painting created as a means for healing and to document and preserve the artist's paternal Métis and Cree lineage, which was buried as a result of aggressive assimilation and its aftermaths. The piece includes subtle shifts in perspective and is dimly lit to suggest memory recall, emotional stress, spiritual presence, ceremony, tenderness, and the weight of intergenerational trauma." (Holly Aubichon, Saskatchewan winner)
  • "Through photo, video, print, and mixed media, Jiā yόu explores the generational, cultural and philosophical Chinese expectation of continuing blood lineages and gaining prosperity, juxtaposed with the artist's queer and diasporic identity." (Kev Liang, Alberta Winner)

The 2021 Selection Committee:

  • Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre, Curator of Contemporary Art, Musée d'art de Joliette
  • Melanie Colosimo, Director/Curator, Anna Leonowens Gallery Systems, NSCAD University
  • Francisco-Fernando Granados, Artist and Educator

To view images of the winning works on BMO Financial Group's website, please visit:

To access the virtual exhibition beginning November 16, please visit:

About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $971 billion as of July 31, 2021, and a team of diverse and highly engaged 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, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: For additional info or to arrange to speak with any of the winners, jurors and/or a BMO 1st Art! spokesperson, please contact: Chelsea Cabello, Touchwood PR,, (905) 926-4739, Keira Hunt, Touchwood PR,; Kelsey Rutherford, BMO Media Relations,, (437)-522-5417