Agnes honoured with three awards from OAAG

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
Supplied by Garrett Elliot

Recently, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre was recognized by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) with three awards that celebrate the outstanding work of art galleries in the province. 

The OAAG supports and encourages public art galleries province-wide, ensuring that excellent standards are met, while promoting arts culture within local communities. The OAAG Awards celebrate the richness of multiple sectors throughout art production in Ontario’s public art galleries. Each year, awards are presented in nine distinct categories. 

This year marked the 39th award ceremony, at which the Agnes was honoured with three awards in different categories.  

Jan Allen, director of the Agnes, described the big win in an interview with The Journal as an unfathomable moment that’s hard to convey. “Particularly because there were three awards, and each of them highlighted distinct aspects of our work,” Allen said. “It’s really reinforcing for our team — we’re not just making a difference in one area of expertise — but across the spectrum of what we do.” 

The Innovation in a Collections-Based Exhibition award was won by the Brendan Fernandes: Lost Bodies exhibition that showed at the Agnes from January 9 till April 10, 2016. By incorporating Fernandes’ background in dance through the use of visual and choreographic work — for instance, the exhibit uses ballet to represent a connection to colonial France — the exhibit explores French African Art and the postcolonial constructs, providing a base in critical discourse. 

According to the OAAG jury, Fernandes’ “work is important and challenging for the institution and audience. The work puts forward difficult ideas in a non-linear way and opening up the collection to a wider audience.” 

The Artist Herself: Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists won the Digital Project Award. This design prize was awarded to Kelsey Blackwell and Jonathan Gallivan of Studio Blackwell for the engaging and interactive web piece co-produced by the Agnes that complemented the exhibit. 

The three works featured in the exhibit are Pauline Johnson’s Performance Costume, Lady Marie-Reine-Josephte Belleau’s Sentiment Album and Marion Wilson and Margaret Frank’s Button Blankets. The online environment created a mobile forum for the material to come to life. 

The association described the work as  “a great use of the medium to tell the story and great use of colour along with an intuitive, interactive interface.”

The final award went to a ten-year member at the Agnes, Jennifer Nicoll for her accomplishments that have benefited not only the gallery, but the community as a whole. Nicoll is the winner of the Colleague award as she excels in her roles of Exhibition Coordinator and Collections Manager. 

Despite the Agnes’ relatively small scale gallery located on a university campus, the awards recognize the rich and vibrant collections that decorate its interior. The honours not only put the gallery on the map as a rich cultural centre for the arts, but Queen’s, too. 

According to Allen, the awards affirm the excellence the gallery is achieving as a creative and intellectual space for students and art enthusiasts alike.

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