Lael Chmelyk Wins 2024 Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics

Lael Chmelyk, Soda Fired Rx Set, 2021. Soda-fired stoneware. Photo: Matthew Huitema

The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery is delighted to announce that Lael Chmelyk of Calgary, AB is the winner of the 2024 Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics! Chmelyk will receive a prize of $10,000 to support her career through mentorship and the development of a soda kiln.

This year’s runner-up is Benjamin Oswald of Edmonton, AB, who will receive a $5,000 prize to support their practice. We congratulate this year’s finalists, each receiving a $1,000 prize: Nichol Marsch (Stonewall, MB), Alejandra Vera (Markham, ON), Sami Tsang (Toronto, ON), and Tomo Ingalls (Surrey, BC).

The 2024 Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics was juried by Marissa Y Alexander, Carole Epp, and Judith Schwartz. The jurors commented about the overall quality of applications and how they are an indicator of the breadth of highly skilled talent in the Canadian Clay Community. They wish to congratulate all the winners and finalists for their thoughtful and considered applications. Unanimously they highlighted the winner, Lael Chmelyk for her clear and confident understanding of her career direction, her pursuit in developing new competencies, and her commitment to the growth of her local community. Runner-up, Benjamin Oswald, was selected for his sensitive and poetic explorations of the vessel with a fresh approach. The jurors wish all of the finalist artists success in their careers going forward. There is much talent in our community and this award is a testament to that.

Lael Chmelyk, Soft Bulk, 2023. Soda-fired stoneware, slip transfers, underglaze, cobalt inlay. 25 x 25 x 11 cm each. Photo: Matthew Huitema

The winner and finalists of the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics will be presented in Emergence, our annual awards exhibition alongside the winner and finalists of the RBC Award for Glass June 1 to September 8, 2024. Chmelyk will receive her prize at the opening reception to be held on Sunday, June 2, 2024, at 2pm.

For more information about this year’s winner and finalists, as well as the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics, visit our website.

About the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics
The Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics is presented annually by the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery and is supported by The Keith and Winifred Shantz Fund for the Arts, held at Waterloo Region Community Foundation. This prestigious $10,000 award allows practising early-career ceramic artists to undertake a period of independent research or other activities that advance their artistic and professional practice. One runner-up will receive a prize of $5,000. Up to 3 finalists will also be selected who will each receive a prize of $1,000. Each summer, the winners and finalists of the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics and RBC Award for Glass will have their work presented in an awards exhibition held at the Gallery.

About Winifred Shantz
The late Winifred Shantz was a driving force for the arts in Waterloo Region for more than 40 years. Her philanthropy, dedication, and passion for the arts is what allows many local cultural institutions to thrive – including the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery – through a legacy of support. A successful ceramist, entrepreneur, and ardent supporter of the arts, Winifred, along with her husband Keith Shantz, were integral in the founding of the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery and have enabled the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics to continue in perpetuity.

About Waterloo Region Community Foundation
Waterloo Region Community Foundation (WRCF) collaborates with partners to create sustainable, equitable and thriving communities. We connect regionally and locally, working with three cities and four townships – to include the people and places across our region. Together, we develop forward-thinking innovative solutions and seize opportunities to meet current and future needs of our community. We make philanthropy easy for individuals and companies to support organizations and issues they care about. WRCF is focused on Granting, Impact Investing and Convening to make measurable and sustainable impacts. Gifts are directed to WRCF’s endowed funds that drive positive change through grants with the income generated being distributed in partnership with Fundholders to support a wide range of charitable causes within our community. A portion of the endowed funds are also used for impact investments that deliver both financial returns as well as positive social or environmental outcomes. As a leading community-building organization we also work to amplify voices and issues of importance by convening conversations and sharing information, while approaching our work with an equity mindset.

About the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery
The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery is a long-standing site of excellence and a destination for contemporary art for international tourists and regional citizens. We present critically acclaimed exhibitions that challenge ideas and perceptions of the definitions of art, craft, and design today. The Gallery is a relevant and dynamic cultural organization providing supportive education programs to people from across the region. Using exhibitions as a starting point, individuals develop arts vocabulary and appreciation and cultivate confidence in their interpretation of contemporary artworks. For more information, visit:

For additional information contact Peter Flannery, Senior Curator & Collections Manager, at 519-746-1882 ext. 235 or

Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery
25 Caroline Street North
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 2Y5

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