Petry Award Testimonials

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Michelle Peraza – 2022 Recipient

I am incredibly honoured and humbled to have joined the list of incredible painters who have won the Nancy Petry Award. I am eternally grateful to Nancy Petry and the Petry and Plaskett Foundations for their support and the opportunity I had to live, research, and paint in Spain. It has been transformative in ways I am only beginning to unpack.

Spending most of my time in Madrid, I was also able to travel to Bilbao, Burgos, Zaragoza, Teruel, Valencia, Barcelona, and Sevilla. Beginning my journey at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, I went on to visit countless other museums, basilicas, and cathedrals, and most importantly for my research, visited the Prado Museum several times. As a Canadian LatinX visual artist exploring the complexity of the contemporary LatinX experience and the role of painting itself in promulgating colonial ideas, my trip to Spain was incredibly fruitful. I was not only able to study Spain’s Golden Age of painting in situ while engaging in critically thinking of the transplantation of Spanish Baroque painting into Latin American art, but also paint and process what it means to be creating in Madrid as the daughter of Latin American immigrants to Canada.

My experience abroad has had a huge impact on my growth as an artist in terms of my critical/creative engagement with the legacy of oil painting, but also in terms of continuing to work towards a decolonial praxis. My sincerest gratitude to the wonderful members of the Plaskett Foundation for their support. The many moments I experienced during this opportunity will continue to reverberate along my journey as an artist.

Adam Alexander Gunn – 2018 Recipient

Karine Frechette (2018 Plaskett recipient)
and I hamming it up in a photobooth
in Berlin sometime in February 2019.

The Nancy Petry prize was a life and career changing experience for me. With the prize money, I undertook a five-month residency in Berlin at Art Mur’s Berlin gallery in the winter/spring of 2019. My MFA work was based on an idea of working improvisationally and this made my practice sensitive to my environment, the art I encountered and the feedback from people I met. Being based in Europe I was able to visit in-person many of the historical paintings I had only seen in images before. This combined with the immersion into a new place with new people had a strong effect on my practice which led to a new body of paintings on the theme of colour and climate change, produced and exhibited in Berlin. After returning I continued working in this new direction with the support of a Canada Council for the Arts Grant.

Beyond the experience this award allowed for, there was also the acknowledgement of the commitment I’d made to a painting practice which was a great source of encouragement. I want to thank Nancy Petry and the people working to organize this award for this generous, unique, valuable and motivating experience.

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