RBC New Canadian Painting Competition
In 2003, while in graduate school in Montréal, I submitted my work "Pray Always. Organize. Upload" to the RBC New Canadian Painting Competition. As the piece was part of a series of large silkscreens on canvas, with hand-applied varnish, white latex house paint, and vinyl lettering, I felt that it sufficiently straddled the ambiguous line that defines "painting". To my delight, the jurors for this prestigious, nation-wide competition agreed, and my work was short-listed, and eventually made the roster of finalists for the Eastern Canadian division. My piece was shown in Halifax, Winnipeg, London (Ontario), and Toronto, and I was invited to the grand reception at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Ultimately, my piece did not win (for "issues" pertaining to whether or not it was, in fact, a "painting", according to a representative of RBC who formed part of the final jury), but the experience was absolutely incredible. I sold several pieces as a result of this exposure, and I made many, many contacts. My work was featured in (and on the cover of) the catalogue that accompanied the show, on bus shelter and subway ads from Toronto to Montréal to St. John's, and later included in the hardcover book celebrating 10 years of the competition. Aside from the sheer pleasure of being treated like a "real artist", while still in graduate school (and to be heralded as a top new painter in Canada despite my practice – and MFA studies – being Print Media based while no "painter" from Concordia made it to the Finalist stages), the greatest gift the RBC Canadian Painting experience gave me was one of confidence and tangible recognition.