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12 Edmonton Arts Prize finalists announced today

April 3, 2024

A shortlist of 12 Edmonton artists will be honoured for their outstanding work in music, visual art, film and literature on May 12024

City of Edmonton Music Prize:
Arlo Maverick, HAIDEE, Home Front 

City of Edmonton Film Prize:
Adam Scorgie, Cody Lightning, Omar Mouallem

The Eldon + Anne Foote Edmonton Visual Arts Prize:
Kelsey Stephenson, Taiessa, Tiffany Shaw 

Robert Kroetsch – City of Edmonton Book Prize:
Anna Marie Sewell, Jennifer Bowering Delisle, Richard Van Camp

In total $100,000 will be awarded to the artists at the awards presentation in May. Each of the 12 shortlisted artists will receive a prize, with $15,000 going to the primary recipient in each category, and two secondary prizes of $5000 being awarded to the runners up. The recipients will be recognized at the awards ceremony during which the overall winner of each prize will be announced. All are welcome to attend the awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 1 at 6:30 pm at Varscona Theatre. To RSVP, click here.

The Edmonton Arts Prizes celebrate artists from a range of art forms and practices, recognizing their work, and investing in their continued experimentation and creation. The prize program is coordinated by the Edmonton Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Edmonton and our community partners: Alberta Media Production Industries Association, Alberta Music, Audreys Books, CARFAC Alberta, Edmonton Community Foundation and Writers’ Guild of Alberta. 

About the shortlisted artists

Shortlisted musicians for the City of Edmonton Music Prize (in partnership with Alberta Music)

Arlo Maverick for Blue Collar

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal recipient Arlo Maverick is a Hip-Hop artist who aims to move listeners physically, mentally and emotionally. Arlo’s music is relatable and timely touching on everything from dating with trust issues, the pursuit of purpose, to the disillusionment of the job market.

Considering himself a public servant in the music sector, Arlo pools much of his inspiration from the various communities he belongs to. From volunteering at cultural events, collaborating with other creatives, engaging in community activism, to conducting interviews for his documentary films, Arlo’s used these interactions to create music and film that manage to speak both to and for his community.

Maverick’s album Blue Collar is a social commentary on the challenges of the working class with much of the themes revolving around a universal pursuit of purpose, prosperity, and happiness. From the disillusionment of the job market after graduating from college (“Paper”) to the gratification of indulging in material things (“Retail Therapy” feat. Mahk Milliano) to being undervalued at a 9 to 5 (“Nothing of Value” feat. Nigel Williams), Blue Collar holds a mirror up to society. It’s an album that tries to capture the seemingly endless balancing act to meet our personal needs, satisfy our wants, and get ahead in an economic environment that makes it harder and harder to do so.

HAIDEE for This Shouldn’t Be Typical

Hailing from a small town in the Philippines, HAIDEE’s passion for music started in karaōke, singing contests, and Sunday worship services. At 16, she embarked on a life-changing journey to reunite with her mother in Edmonton, where music became her constant companion in an otherwise unfamiliar environment. Driven by a deep sense of representation as a woman of colour, HAIDEE strives to empower her listeners through her music, sparking meaningful conversations and making them feel seen.

HAIDEE’s debut album This Shouldn’t Be Typical is inspired by her experiences, as well as her family’s, as first-generation immigrants in Canada. I’ve watched my parents go from being prominent members of our community back home in the Philippines to moving to Edmonton, starting all over again with next to nothing. I appreciate all their sacrifices so I told myself I will not write songs just for me, but for the communities I belong to as well.”

Home Front for Games of Power

A distinct sound is made when freshly polished Dr. Marten boots crunch through the snow in the frozen tundra of northern Canada. When the hum of traffic is low the boots make a hard rhythm on the cold concrete. Welcome to HOME FRONT, a beat and a sound unique to a working class city like Edmonton. For seasoned DIY Punk musicians Graeme MacKinnon (No Problem/​/​Wednesday Night Heroes) and Clint Frazier (Shout Out Out Out Out/​Wet Secrets/​Physical Copies) Home Front is the perfect clash of Oi! Punk with 80s Synth Pop to create the new style of shoe gaze, or in this case, Boot Gaze.

Games of Power is an enormous full-length debut from Edmonton’s Home Front who have managed to fix truth to the beautiful and borderline mythical thread needle moment in which punk, new wave, pop, indie and rock and roll all descend upon a single source. We may have only dreamed that Tears for Fears might have been going to see GBH at the weekend or that Annie Lennox spent her evening sewing Crass patches to her Wrangler Blue Bell jacket, but Home Front have rung the dinner triangle for us all to feast. High moments of perfectly patina’d synth brilliance, tender new wave considerations, punk anthems that could fill the biggest stadium, and fiery hooks that could warm the coldest cynic. The Champagne, the gluebag, the boots, and the eyeliner, Game of Power clutches to it all.

Shortlisted films for the City of Edmonton Film Prize (in partnership with Alberta Media Production Industries Association)

Adam Scorgie for Thunder: The Life and Death of Arturo Gatti

Adam Scorgie, a visionary in the world of film production, transforms stories into cinematic experiences. With a keen eye for compelling narratives, he navigates the complexities of filmmaking, bringing forth thought-provoking content that resonates with audiences globally. 

About Thunder: The Life and Death of Arturo Gatti: Arturo Thunder” Gatti’s meteoric rise to fame as a warrior boxer is only eclipsed by his mysterious and controversial death. His life spanned from the proud Italian neighborhoods of Montréal to the boxing gyms of New Jersey, where he became a world champion and gave us his infamous trilogy of matches with Micky Ward. Arturo Gatti’s meteoric rise to fame as a warrior boxer is only eclipsed by his mysterious and controversial death.

Cody Lightning for HEY VIKTOR!

Cody Lightning is a world-class, generation-defining actor, iconic for his performance as Little Viktor in 1998’s Smoke Signals. Hailing from Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta, Cody began acting at age five in the film Geronimo. Since, he has become one of Hollywood’s most active Indigenous actors. In 2023, Cody starred in Marvel’s Echo series. In recent years, Lightning has taken on greater creative responsibilities, including producing, directing, and writing. 

About HEY VIKTOR!: Twenty years removed from childhood fame as Little Viktor in 1998’s Smoke Signals, Cody Lightning has been forced to move home to his reserve in northern Alberta. He still believes himself to be famous— even though the only parts he gets these days are porn and fracking commercials. But when Cody learns his wife and kids are leaving him for a younger, more successful actor, he decides it’s time to quit fucking around and make his masterpiece— writing, directing, and starring in SMOKE SIGNALS 2: STILL SMOKING.

Omar Mouallem for The Lebanese Burger Mafia

Omar Mouallem is an author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker known for intertwining human interest stories with world history and broader social issues. As a second generation Canadian born and raised in Northern Alberta’s Muslim Lebanese community, his primary interest is Western Muslim and Middle Eastern nonfiction narratives. 

The Lebanese Burger Mafia captures the trials and tribulations of Arab Canadians manifested through Burger Baron, a rogue fast-food chain that operates like a dysfunctional mob. To unearth the restaurant’s mysterious origins, writer/​director Omar Mouallem — himself heir to a Burger Baron throne — travels to these small-town diners. 

Shortlisted artists for the Eldon + Anne Foote Edmonton Visual Arts Prize (in partnership with the Eldon and Anne Foote Fund at the Edmonton Community Foundation & CARFAC Alberta)

Kelsey Stephenson for Currents
(Nominated by Emily Baker, Art Gallery of St. Albert)

Kelsey Stephenson (she/​her) is a settler-descended Canadian artist based within Edmonton (Amiskwacîwâskahikan). Her recent work focuses on the changes imposed on landscape through human agency through use of installation and multimedia practices. Her work is often quite large in scale, immersing viewers within created visual, audio and tactile spaces and bringing those more remote locations within the gallery setting.

Currents focuses on the human impacts to water systems through a multifaceted, seamless exploration of the ice, snow, and moving water found at different geographical points along the North Saskatchewan River over a period of two years. Currents examines the link between the metro area of the city of Edmonton and the glacial headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River and the contrast between urban industrialized river spaces and the policy epicentre of the province and the glacial headwaters located within the protected National Park spaces which sustain Edmonton’s metro area.

Taiessa for variegata
(Nominated by Jacek Malec, Harcourt House Artist Run Centre)

Taiessa (she/​her) is a white settler and multi-discipline artist living in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, AB). Her artistic practice explores themes of nurturance, longing, exchange, and (im)permanence. Conceptually driven while rooted in process, she works primarily in printmaking, drawing, and soft sculpture.

variegata is a collection of ghostly soft-sculptures made in the likeness of desirable plant clippings. The work examines the commercialization of plant collecting as tied to colonial extraction, serving as an exploitative accrual of social capital across history and still today. Displayed on precarious wooden structures, variegata speculates a cautionary future where current botanical trends are prioritized in growing practices. In kinship with plants and with each other, the work beckons for more equitable forms of exchange.

Tiffany Shaw for my children, my mother, her mother and their mother, and their mother, and their mother, and their mother.…. nitawasimisak, nikawiy, okawiya ekwa okawiwawa, okawiyiwa, ekwa okawiyiwa ekwa okawiyiwa.….

(Nominated by The Works Art & Design Festival)

Tiffany Shaw is a Métis architect, artist and curator based in Alberta. Currently Tiffany is working at Reimagine Architects as the Indigenous Practice Leader and recently started an Indigenous owned consulting company, named Reimagine Gathering. She has been the recipient of multiple public art commissions throughout Canada and is a core member of the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective.

This work is a knitted series about my family which I am calling grief work. I started making this work shortly after my mother passed in 2020 as a way to physically work through my grief. This work is about the generations in my family, from those who came before me, to those who will be after, and the trauma, love, and connection that passes with each generation. This work encourages you to sit upon it to rest and relax. Though it might be noisy and a bit awkward to find a resting spot upon it, my hope is that it will ultimately support and comfort you as well as provide shade.”

Shortlisted authors for the Robert Kroetsch – City of Edmonton Book Prize (in partnership with Audreys Books & Writers’ Guild of Alberta) 

Anna Marie Sewell for Urbane

Anna Marie Sewell is the author of novels Urbane (2023) and Humane (2020), both with Stonehouse Publishing; and poetry collections For the Changing Moon: Poems & Songs (Thistledown Press, 2018) and Fifth World Drum (Frontenac House, 2009). Her artistic practice centres collaborative projects at the intersections of culture, language, and modality, no doubt influenced by her pre-TRC upbringing in a defiantly mixed-race (Mi’gmaq/Anishinaabe/Polish) family. She is a member of Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation, born in Mi’kmaki but raised in the Peace Country, and long resident in Amiskwaciy/​Edmonton.

Urbane is the second novel in Anna Marie Sewell’s Amiskwaciy series, featuring unlicensed detective and unenthusiastic servant of justice, Hazel LeSage. Having survived a stint as a shapeshifter’s accomplice on a mission of vengeance and redemption, unlicensed detective and self-professed asshole Hazel LeSage returns. 

The aftermath of violence has left Hazel with questions, wounds and unexpected friends including Shanaya Bhattacharya, a very unusual lawyer whose thirst for wrongs to right leads her and Hazel into the wilder parts of Alberta on a deadly mission of rescue. Taking it on will force Hazel to confront her past; her survival might depend on some most unexpected alliances.

Jennifer Bowering Delisle for Micrographia

Jennifer Bowering Delisle’s collection of lyric essays, Micrographia, was published by Gordon Hill Press in fall 2023. She is also the author of Deriving, a collection of poetry (2021) and The Bosun Chair, a lyric family memoir (2017). A new book of poetry, Stock, is forthcoming with Coach House Press in 2025. She is on the board of NeWest Press and lives in Treaty 6 territory in Edmonton. 

As Jennifer Bowering Delisle was on her path through infertility towards motherhood, she was simultaneously losing her own mother to a rare degenerative neurological disease and an approaching medically-assisted death. The lyric essays in Micrographia explore how losses can collide and reverberate both within our own lives and in our relationships with the rest of the world.

Richard Van Camp for The Spirit of Denendeh: As I Enfold You in Petals

Richard Van Camp is a Tlicho Dene author from Fort Smith, NWT, living in Edmonton with his family for over 13 years. Richard writes books in just about every genre honouring and celebrating modern Indigenous life. He was recently honoured with the Order of the Northwest Territories for his work honouring Northerners and life in Denendeh. 

A stunning, fast-paced graphic novel, As I Enfold You in Petals will keep readers riveted until the last page.

Newly sober, Curtis searches for healing in the ancient cultural practices of his Tłıcho Dene grandfather. But will the Little People answer his call?Curtis has returned to Fort Smith, six weeks sober. He doesn’t have any sober friends, his mom’s still drinking, and his best friend (and secret crush) Lacey probably is too. Still, he’s determined to abstain from alcohol and help his people. Along the way, he might just be able to help himself.