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Visual Arts professor tapped among artistic elite

By Adela Talbot, Western News

Kelly Jazvac

Photo by Adela Talbot.

Kelly Jazvac, a Visual Arts professor and artist, who works primarily in installation, sculpture and collage, has been longlisted for the Sobey Art Award, among the most prestigious honours for young artists in the country.

Among the most prestigious honours for young artists in the country, the Sobey Art Award could be bestowed this year on one of Western’s own.

Kelly Jazvac, a Visual Arts professor and artist, who works primarily in installation, sculpture and collage, has been longlisted for the award, joining 24 other talented artists from across Canada, all of them under 40 years old.

“I’m totally thrilled about it and I’m really excited. It’s a pretty impressive list, too, so it feels great to be included among those artists,” said Jazvac, who has been teaching at Western for six years.

Established by Donald Sobey, former chair of the National Gallery of Canada, the award, given annually since 2006, is bestowed upon an artist 40 and under who’s had a public or commercial gallery exhibition within 18 months of being nominated by a respected curator or professional in the field.

The award comes with a $50,000 prize – and a big boost to one’s career. Previous recipients include Duane Linklater, Brian Jungen, Annie Pootoogook and David Altmejd.

This year, $100,000 is up for grabs as part of the award, with the winner set to receive $50,000, while each of four runner-ups will earn $10,000, instead of the usual $5,000. The remaining longlisted artists will each receive $500.

Jazvac was nominated for the award by Jon Davies, an associate curator at Oakville Galleries, where her exhibition, Park, was displayed in September.

Jazvac’s mostly abstract works explore possible connections between material quality, surface, consumerism and desire. Park featured an exploration of the collision of synthetic materials and natural materials.

“The exhibition looked at natural space, the environment, and made connections inside the space and outside the space. I did this photoshoot in the pond of a garden – I was putting plastic objects in the pond and photographing it – and I used windows and a wallpaper mural to try and extend an inside and outside view,” Jazvac explained.

Jazvac’s sculptures and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally and she’s been said to have sensitivity to the potential in overlooked and everyday objects.

“What’s more typical of my work is I will take plastics on their way to the landfill and remake them into abstract collages; but they always have a trace of the thing they came from,” she said.

Jazvac’s recent focus has been an interdisciplinary collaboration with Western geologist Patricia Corcoran, stemming from their discovery and study of a new rock form they’ve dubbed “plastiglomerate.” The formation is a mix of natural materials (sand, coral, volcanic rock) and melted plastic debris that washed ashore from the ocean. A manuscript of their findings will be published this June in GSA Today.

Jazvac is currently working on a show that will be exhibited in New York City this fall.

The longlist for the 2014 prize is available on the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia website. A jury of five chose the 25 candidates, divided into groups of five based on geographic region. A shortlist of five will be announced in early June and the winner named in mid-November. Works by the shortlisted artists will be exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, starting Nov. 1.

Joining Jazvac on the Sobey Art Award longlist is alumnus Jean-Paul Kelly, who graduated from Western with a BFA in 2001.