Prof Wins Major Arts Prize

October 14, 2011 - News Release

A University of Guelph professor has won the prestigious Sobey Award for contemporary art. Prof. Christian Giroux, School of Fine Art and Music, will share the $50,000 prize with his collaborator, Daniel Young.

Their award was announced at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax on Thursday.

“Christian Giroux’s work is most definitely on the leading edge of his discipline, from all perspectives,” said Don Bruce, dean of the College of Arts. “This award is a mark of the significance of his contributions and is well deserved.”

Giroux and Young use consumer goods and industrial components to create sculpture and installation pieces. One of their competition entries was a film of diverse lighting fixtures bought from a “big box” hardware store. Their other works use pieces of furniture or ductwork twisted into playful forms.

In its citation, the jury said, “Young and Giroux reflect a curious world where digital interfaces have become an inextricable part of our lives.”

The jury praised their work’s references to industrial and computer processes and for investigating “our affection for material, formal elements, space and our relationship with the lingering legacy of modernism.”

Five leading contemporary artists from across Canada competed for the award.

Established in 2002, the Sobey Art Award seeks to highlight contemporary art and the country’s best young artists.

Giroux, a U of G professor since 2004, has exhibited nationally and internationally, including shows at Hunter College in New York, AceArt in Winnipeg and the PowerPlant in Toronto. He has been an artist-in-residence in Berlin and Paris.

Giroux and Young created Reticulated Gambol, a permanent fixture in the new Lee Centre Park in Scarborough, Ont. Another exhibit shown at parks, beaches and boardwalks around Miami invited visitors to enter and explore an eight-foot-high “molecule” called Fullerene.

Giroux and Young also created a collection of space satellites with the help of John Phillips, a design engineer in U of G’s School of Engineering. One satellite was featured in Contemporary magazine. Giroux and Phillips also designed a sculpture and printmaking course allowing students to create 3D artworks.

Last year, Giroux received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to create Ontario’s first digital haptic lab in the School of Engineering. Here, artists and engineers can visualize and design functional components and complex forms for 3D construction using prototyping tools.

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