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Shoshana Wasser

Senior Communications Coordinator (Government & Media Relations)
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Mary Anne Barkhouse receives the 2020 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award

June 25, 2020

Visual artist Mary Anne Barkhouse is the recipient of the 2020 Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award. This award, created in 2012, celebrates the work of Indigenous artists and arts leaders who have made significant contributions to the arts in Ontario.

In recognition of this honour, Mary Anne will receive $10,000, a framed certificate and an Indigenous-designed blanket. A public presentation of the award will be made at a future date.

Mary Anne Barkhouse
Mary Anne Barkhouse
(Photo: Cole Burston) 


About Mary Anne Barkhouse

  • Mary Anne Barkhouse was born in Vancouver, B.C., and currently resides in the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario.
  • She has strong ties to both coasts: her mother is from the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation of Alert Bay, B.C., and her father is of German and British descent from Nova Scotia. She is also a descendant of a long line of internationally recognized Northwest Coast artists that includes Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin and Charlie James.
  • Mary Anne’s artistic practice developed out of her personal and family experience with land and water stewardship. Her work often invokes animal imagery to explore themes such as empire, survival, culture and ecological concerns.
  • Mary Anne has exhibited widely across Canada and the United States. Her work can be found in numerous collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, Remai Modern (Saskatoon, Sask.) and the Banff Centre for the Arts (Banff, Alta.).
  • She is also known for her public art installations in many cities across Canada – most recently in ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park (Edmonton, Alta.), at the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, Que.), and at Carleton University (Ottawa, Ont.).
  • Mary Anne graduated with Honours from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
Sovereign by Mary Anne Barkhouse (2007). Bronze, velvet and beech.
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada. 

Detail from Tapestry I: Truth and Reconciliation, by Mary Anne Barkhouse (2017). Bronze, wood, taffeta and vinyl.
Courtesy of the Esker Foundation. (Photo: John Dean) 

Harvest by Mary Anne Barkhouse, (2009). Bronze, wood, porcelain and taffeta.
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada. 


The jury members were unanimous in selecting Mary Anne for this award. As they stated:
“Mary Anne’s work is grounded in connections to family, generations and the land. She holds these strong themes in a delicate balance with her sense of wonder, humour, and respect – and each of her sculptures becomes a three-dimensional story. Her art truly transcends the boundaries of colonial discourse.”

Emerging Artist Laureate

The Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Arts Award also honours emerging arts leadership: each year, the award recipient is invited to nominate a rising Indigenous artist or arts professional to receive a $2,500 prize. Mary Anne has selected visual artist Olivia Whetung as this year’s emerging laureate.
Olivia Whetung
Olivia Whetung
(Photo: Vicki Whetung) 

About Olivia Whetung

  • Olivia Whetung is an artist, beadworker, and gardener from the area now called the Kawarthas. She is a member of Curve Lake First Nation and a citizen of the Nishnaabeg Nation.
  • Olivia’s work explores “acts of/active” native presence, as well as the challenges of working with/in/through Indigenous languages in an art world dominated by English.
  • Her art has been the focus of solo exhibitions at Gallery 44 (Toronto), the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art (Kelowna), Artspace (Peterborough) and 180 Projects (Sault Ste. Marie).
  • She has also contributed to group exhibitions across Ontario (Textile Museum of Canada, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Carleton University Art Gallery, Agnes Etherington Art Centre) and British Columbia (Access Gallery, Western Front, VIVO Media Arts Centre, Open Space).
  • Olivia completed her BFA with a minor in Anishinaabemowin at Algoma University in 2013. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MFA in Visual Arts 2016.
Sugarbush Shrapnel by Olivia Whetung (2019). 11/0 Delica seed beads, fireline and fireplace residue.
(Photo: Contemporary Art Gallery and SITE Photography) 

Detail from Stand.
(Photo: Contemporary Art Gallery and SITE Photography) 



“I have long admired how Olivia’s deft use of material and elegant attention to design elevates the subtleties of the rich environment that surrounds us,” said Mary Anne Barkhouse, on why she chose Olivia for this honour. “A strong narrative thread runs through her work, poignantly weaving human and natural history, giving voice and agency to the myriad characters in and of the Indigenous landscape.”

About the Award