M. E. Sparks – 2016 Recipient
It is an incredible honour to receive the Petry Award. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the the Nancy Petry Foundation, the Joe Plaskett Foundation, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and, of course, to the celebrated Canadian painter, photographer, performer, film and media artist, Nancy Petry, for making this opportunity possible. Thank you as well to Emily Carr University and to the dedicated professors who have provided never-ending support during my master’s. I am also forever thankful to NSCAD University and the professors there who guided me through my undergraduate degree. NSCAD is where I fell in love with painting. While understanding that the path of a painter may be a difficult one, it became evident that this is the path I was meant to be on.
To develop your own voice through painting, to remain authentic, critical, reflexive, while pushing boundaries and breaking new ground, all while putting your work out into the world – these are the challenges we face.
It is awarded opportunities such as this that remind us our voices are being heard, our work is being recognized, and to continue following this path we are on, even while it leads into the unknown.
This award demonstrates the utmost importance of travel and exploration for emerging artists. It is a rare and life-changing opportunity to have the financial assistance to travel to Europe, and I am confident this experience will significantly transform and propel my practice forward in new and unforeseen ways. To see art in person, both historical and contemporary, is crucial to every artist’s development. Engaging with international art communities, building networks through residencies and galleries, and having the chance to produce work in a new context – these opportunities are pivotal, and I am so thankful and excited for the adventure to come. Thank you again, to Nancy Petry, for her ongoing contributions to Canadian visual arts, and for continuing to make difference in the lives of emerging painters.
– M.E. Sparks