17th Annual BMO 1st Art! Competition Winners Announced


BMO 1st Art! Competition Recognizes Fresh Perspectives from Emerging Canadian Artists

  • BMO Financial Group announces one national winner and 12 regional winners of their annual BMO 1st Art! competition
  • $15,000 is awarded to the national winner; $7,500 is awarded to each regional winner
  • All selected works will be showcased from November 21 to December 16 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 158 Sterling Rd, Toronto


National Winner from Manitoba
Figure as Index (Triptych) by Luther Konadu

TORONTO, August 12, 2019 – BMO Financial Group today announced the winners of its 17th annual BMO 1st Art! competition, recognizing visual arts excellence among undergraduate artists across Canada.

The invitational competition presents emerging artists with cash awards of $15,000 to one national winner and $7,500 to 12 regional winners from coast to coast. An esteemed panel of jurors selected the 13 outstanding works from a pool of 291 submissions. All winning pieces will be showcased from November 21 to December 16 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 158 Sterling Rd, Toronto, following a private exhibition opening on Wednesday, November 20.

“I’m proud of all of the work that BMO does to support emerging artists through its various projects year-round,” said Cameron Fowler, President, North American Personal & Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. “It’s an honour to be part of an initiative that recognizes the wealth of Canadian talent from coast to coast. Congratulations to the 2019 winners on their accomplishment.”

“It’s wonderful to see such inventive and complex projects from a group of graduates, knowing that their generation is the future of art in Canada,” said Dawn Cain, Curator, BMO Corporate Art Collection. “We applaud this year’s honourees and look forward to celebrating their well-deserved recognition in November.”

Once again, Deans and instructors of 110 undergraduate student art programs were invited to select three graduating students from each of their studio specialties to submit a recent work.

For the first time in the competition’s history, the 2019 submission guidelines allowed for time-based media including video, film, slide, audio and computer technologies, in addition to the previously accepted mediums of drawing, printmaking, photography, painting, sculpture, glass, ceramics, textiles, mixed media, and installation works.

The 2019 BMO 1st Art! winners are:

National Winner

  • Luther Konadu, University of Manitoba (Manitoba)

Regional Winners

  • Preston Pavlis, MacEwan University (Alberta)
  • Cheyenne Rain LeGrande, Emily Carr University of Art & Design (British Columbia)
  • Marie-France Hollier, University of Manitoba (Manitoba)
  • Clara Patterson, Mount Allison University (New Brunswick)
  • Emily Hayes, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Séamus Gallagher, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University (Nova Scotia)
  • Kaleigh Rose Tagak, Nunavut Arctic College (Nunavut)
  • Christopher Dela Cruz, University of Toronto at Scarborough (Ontario)
  • Hanna Matheson, Holland College (Prince Edward Island)
  • Charline Dally, Université du Québec à Montréal (Quebec)
  • Jimuel Belarmino, University of Regina (Saskatchewan)
  • Robyn McLeod, Yukon School of Visual Arts (Yukon)

Other highlighted works include:

  • A series of C-prints formed from images of the artist’s close community of family and friends taken over a period of time. The triptych is part of an ongoing documentary project that works toward combating history’s negative depiction of the black body and creating a document of self on their own terms. (Luther Konadu, National winner)
  • A machine that logs moments of silence or muted sounds, examining the notion of silence as something that should be attentively heard—a privilege only granted to sound. (Christopher Dela Cruz, Ontario winner)
  • A virtual reality walkthrough of a drag house created using the video game engine Unity, which serves as an alternate, self-made family designed to generate safe spaces. (Séamus Gallagher, Nova Scotia winner)
  • An oil painting on canvas that critiques the wasteful behaviour and luxuries afforded to the privileged in our society, inspired by the artist’s experience witnessing extreme poverty as a child in the Philippines. (Jimuel Belarmino, Saskatchewan winner)
  • A series of digital prints and handmade mukluks that thread together tradition and technology. The piece imagines a future where the Dené people continue to resist colonial barriers such as misrepresentation and erasure. (Robyn McLeod, Yukon winner)

The 2019 selection committee:

  • Marie-Eve Beaupré, Curator, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, QC
  • cheyanne turions, Curator, SFU Galleries, BC
  • Sarah Robayo Sheridan, Curator, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, ON
  • Adriana Kuiper, Artist and Associate Professor, Mount Allison University, NB

To view the winning pieces on BMO Financial Group’s website, please visit: https://1stArt.bmo.com

About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider – the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $830 billion as of April 30, 2019, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.


To arrange to speak with any of the winners, please contact:

Keira Hunt, Touchwood PR
(416) 593-0777 ext. 210

Kim Johnson, BMO Financial Group
(416) 867-3996