It's proving to be an "awarding" year for Sandra Meigs. In March the veteran Victoria-based artist, 62, was named a recipient of a Governor-General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, worth $25,000. And Wednesday evening a four-member jury announced it was giving the 2015 Gershon Iskowitz Prize, a $50,000 honour, to Meigs.
The Iskowitz, established in 1986, is presented annually to an artist who has made an outstanding life-long contribution to Canadian visual arts. Besides the cash, the winner also gets to have a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; Meigs will have hers next year.
A decidedly multidisciplinary artist, Meigs, Baltimore-born, came to Canada in the early 70s after studing ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1973 she enrolled in the BFA program at what was then the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, followed by a Master's degree in philosophy from Dalhousie University. From 1980 onwards she's worked in a variety of idioms – painting, sound, installation, film, sculpture, text, performance – moving to Victoria in 1993 to teach in the visual arts department at the university there.
An Iskowitz juror, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal curator Lesley Johnstone, in a statement released Wednesday, described the Meigs ouevre as "comical and sad, materially rich and social engaged, psychologically intense but also playful. Her work continues to surprise us with each new project."
For the last 20 years, the Iskowitz, honouring the Toronto abstract painter who gave it its name (1921-1988), has been a joint project of the Iskowitz Foundation and the AGO, home to the Iskowitz archives. Previous Iskowitz honorees include Stan Douglas, Shary Boyle, General Idea, Michael Snow and the 2014 laureate, Vancouver's Liz Magor.
Editor's note: An earlier digital version of this story incorrectly stated that the 2015 Gershon Iskowitz Prize was announced on Thursday evening; however, it was announced on Wednesday evening. This digital version has been corrected.