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Friday, August 1, 2014

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Bronfmans support emerging contemporary artists

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Claudine Bronfman, left, and her husband Stephen, right, congratulate the 2012 recipients of the contemporary art fellowship they created, Sébastien Cliche and Julie Favreau. [PBL Photography photo]

MONTREAL — Two fine arts students about to graduate in Montreal will be handsomely aided in making the transition from their studies to a career thanks to art lovers Claudine and Stephen Bronfman.

The couple was on hand for the announcement of the 2012 recipients of the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art, which are worth approximately $55,000 each, at a ceremony held at Concordia University.

This year’s honourees are interdisciplinary artists Sébastien Cliche, who is completing studies in visual and media arts at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and Julie Favreau, who is winding up her academic work in studio arts at Concordia. Both will receive their master’s degrees this year.

This is the third year for the fellowship, which was launched with a $550,000 gift from the Bronfmans.

Each year, a jury selects two promising post-graduate visual arts or design students: one from UQAM, and one from Concordia. The fellowship covers the critical two years of a young artist’s life following graduation, especially helpful to up-and-coming artists whose esoteric work may not readily find a commercial market.

The announcement coincided with the opening of an exhibition in Concordia’s FOFA Gallery of the works of one of the inaugural winners, Steve Bates, whose two-year fellowship is now finished.

“Claudine and Stephen Bronfman’s investment in supporting our most promising students at a critical transitional time in their career has had a profoundly positive impact on its recipients to date,” said Concordia fine arts dean Catherine Wild and UQAM arts faculty dean Louise Poissant in a joint statement.

The awards allow emerging artists to develop as professionals, undertake and exhibit their creations or research, and broaden their teaching experience.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to Claudine and Stephen Bronfman for their generous contribution to my ongoing journey,” said Favreau. “This fellowship will enable me to continue the work I started with my master’s while developing my professional practice.”

The jury was impressed by her mixture of theatrical, sculptural, cinematic and installation art in seemingly simple single tableaux.

Cliche said the financial support will go toward several projects begun in his post-graduate studies. “It’s very encouraging to know that I will have the flexibility to finish them.”

His work explores the ambiguous relationship people have with security through installations, Web projects, photography and audiovisual performances.

The jury is composed of representatives of Concordia and UQAM, as well as an external juror. More than 30 applications were submitted this year.

In addition to Bates, previous winners are Véronique Savard (UQAM) in 2010, and Pavitra Wickramasinghe (Concordia) and Aude Moreau (UQAM) in 2011.

Bates’ exhibition, entitled FDBK, will be at the FOFA Gallery in the EV Building until May 25. His work combines video installation, sound, light and even radio transmissions.

He said that the fellowship enabled him to mount four exhibitions, including a solo show in Winnipeg, where he grew up, and to enter a work in the Québec Triennial last year at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. The fellowship also led to residencies with two local artist-run centres.

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