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Shelley Niro Receives First Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award

Toronto, June 20, 2012 – Visual artist Shelley Niro is the first laureate of the new Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award. The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) will present the $7,500 award to Niro at the Woodland Cultural Centre on August 11, 2012, during the Planet IndigenUS activities. The new annual award celebrates the work of Aboriginal artists and arts leaders who have made significant contributions to the arts in Ontario. It also recognizes the next generation of artists: each recipient is invited to nominate an Emerging Aboriginal Artist who in turn receives a $2,500 prize. Shelley Niro selected mixed media and visual artist Tracey Anthony as the 2012 Emerging Aboriginal Artist. Anthony is the founder of Vision Artworks at Six Nations of the Grand River territory / Mississaugas of The New Credit First Nation.

About Shelley Niro  

Photo: Shelley Niro


The 2012 jurors unanimously selected Shelley Niro for the award, noting that “her work is radical and unrelenting. They are ruminations on war, on life, on being a Mohawk woman… on being an Aboriginal person in Canada. She tells stories in fundamentally Indigenous ways, with humour, generosity and a strong sense of knowledge transfer, and gives freely to her community.”

OAC Chair Martha Durdin noted, “Congratulations to Shelley on this well-deserved award. Shelley personifies the innovation and creativity of Ontario’s indigenous arts community. OAC is proud to be inaugurating an award that honours the vital contributions of Aboriginal artists and arts leaders to Ontario’s cultural landscape.” 

About the Emerging Artist

Photo: Tracey Anthony
  • Tracey Anthony, the 2012 Emerging Aboriginal Artist, is a mixed media and visual artist whose work includes drawing, painting, printmaking, and other practices. He draws on his Delaware / Six Nations and Mississauga heritage, oral traditions and cultural stereotypes, Aboriginal mythology and symbolism as well as modern ideologies to explore concepts of identity and society. His work incorporates elements of the supernatural and the fantastic, and blurs the line between reality and imagination.  
  • Following studies at OCAD University, Anthony founded Vision Artworks in 1999 and is a featured artist in Four From Six, a show curated by Shelley Niro which will also be featured at the Planet IndigenUS activities at the Woodland Cultural Centre in August 2012. 

Learn More

  • The Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award is a $10,000 award program: $7,500 is awarded to the laureate, $2,500 to the Emerging Aboriginal Artist.
  • OAC’s 2008-2013 Strategic Plan, Connections and Creativity, includes increasing investment and support to Aboriginal artists and arts organizations.
  • Laureates and Emerging artists will be announced each June, to mark National Aboriginal History Month. 
  • Jurors for the 2012 award were: Christi Belcourt (Metis, Espanola); Cherie Dimaline (Metis Ojibway, Toronto); Chief Bryan LaForme (Ojibway, Hagersville); Steve Loft (Mohawk, Toronto); Patti Shaughnessy (Ojibway, Peterborough).
  • Any Ontarian, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, can nominate an Aboriginal artist or Aboriginal arts leader for this award.  Nomination forms for the 2013 award will be available in September 2012. 
  • Guidelines for the award are available here.



Geneviève Vallerand, Communications Coordinator,
Ontario Arts Council
1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434