Photo Credit: Georgia Dawkin
BMO 1st Art! Competition
The NL winner for the BMO 1st ART! Award has officially been announced!
This achievement is awarded each year to a student from each province in Canada and to a National winner. It is a way to celebrate and highlight the young artists across our country and the incredible work that they are accomplishing.
“BMO 1st Art! celebrates the creativity of art school students from over 100 post-secondary institutions across Canada.”BMO
For more information on the competition, visit:
The NL provincial winner,
Georgia Dawkin, a recent graduate from Grenfell’s School of Fine Arts, is the provincial winner here in Newfoundland and Labrador; Originally from Victoria, BC, she moved to NL for university. She has created numerous works and prints, including an exhibit titled Infestation and a digital photo series that can all be found on her website – https://www.georgiadawkin.ca/
Her submission piece entitled “Professional Woman: Coming Soon” critiques and comments on misogyny and sexist themes that affect women in modern professional environments. Creative, humorous, and thought-provoking, her piece showcases the many aspects of what professional women endure daily.
Luckily, Dawkin was able to chat with us about her work and what this achievement will mean for her moving forward. Read on to discover more about the artist and the piece she created. The following conversation has been condensed and edited.
How did you find out about the BMO 1st Art award?
Well, we’re actually nominated by our profs. It’s nice because there is only one art school in NL, so everyone in our graduating class was nominated together. It’s your choice if you want to put forward an application; out of those applicants, a winner is chosen. I received a phone call earlier in the year; then, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement so the winners could be kept a secret until the announcement went public.
What made you choose to attend Grenfell?
Believe it or not, I came to St. John’s first; I came to MUN for Neuroscience and then switched programs, made a big switch, and moved to Corner Brook to do visual arts. I did two years here and then four years there, and now I’m back living in St. John’s again! Haha
How long have you been creating art, and when did feminism become an inspiration for your work?
I was always creating art and painting at my house as a kid, which continued through my teenage years. My mom – who is a doctor – would always tell me,
“You don’t wanna be a doctor; that’s not for you. You need to be a tattoo artist!”
She always encouraged me the opposite way. Then, I got a job working for Paint Nite NL while I was still in neuroscience, regularly bringing art back into my life. I was able to spend more time painting, which is what encouraged me to want to apply for art school.
Is there a particular event/thought that inspired you to create Professional Woman: Coming Soon?
There wasn’t really one particular event that inspired Professional Woman. I’ve always been passionate about and interested in feminism and those kinds of topics. I think some of my work started with things that I thought were funny. I find a lot of the video funny and I always like to include humour in my artwork. I like to talk about serious, concerning, and/or frustrating topics and find a way to incorporate a humorous aspect. Some parts come from me just wanting to make a joke of something.
A particular scene in the video caught my attention; the clip of you conducting to an audio recording was so well executed. How difficult was it to put together?
So, I wouldn’t consider myself a musical or rhythmic person at all, and I originally had so much trouble with that scene. When making that scene, I made an audio clip of different internet recordings and recordings of my friends’ voices. Then I went into the studio to film, put on a piece of classical music and tried to conduct the music. I didn’t, however, consider that it wouldn’t match up with the recording I made. When I put it together and showed my advisor, I was like, ‘this feels so weird,’ and she was like, ‘yeah, cause it is,’ haha.
So, I had to remake the song. I got a metronome online of the same count as the classical piece and then re-filmed it so that my conducting matched the counts of the backtrack.
The video format of this piece is quite different from your previous work, what made you want to take on this kind of project?
I had never done any video like this before this past year. I was taking a new media class at school, working with video and sound art – I really loved it. At the same time, I was doing a lot of research for my fourth-year project about feminist art history and Canadian feminist artists, specifically how performance and video are such a huge theme throughout that topic. A lot of feminist artists say that using the feminine body as a woman is the best way to put yourself in history and to put women in history. So, that came into play a little bit.
The concept of Professional Woman partially came from how I would say it all the time. I would call myself and call other people ‘Professional Woman.’ I drew her as a comic book character for a long time. She wasn’t a performance character at first; the project developed that way because it was the only approach that could fully convey what I wanted to get across.
There are many different dimensions to this piece. Watching it again, it’s easy to see aspects you may not have noticed the first time. Was this intentional?
Everything throughout the video is well thought out and personal to me. Even things like font choices and colours are very specific. The billboards in the background of the shots have been redone. Lots of little things like that to make it exactly what I want it to be in that Professional Woman universe.
In the construction scene, the first time we filmed it, I got an actual bucket of dirt and wheeled it up to the studio – a studio monitor saw me, and I just said, ‘please just ignore me; I promise I’ll clean it up!’ – But then I had to re-film it because I had new props and a different outfit. By that point, it was winter, and I couldn’t exactly get dirt, so I decided to edit them in instead – it was pretty funny!
Feminism is a big passion of yours. Will these themes promoting female equality and awareness concerning issues of misogyny continue to be voiced in your future/upcoming work?
I have done a lot with feminism in my past work. I previously did a collaboration with my friend and fellow artist, Stephanie Sheppard, called ‘she’s so edgy.’ I plan on continuing with that body of work with Professional Woman and making more videos. I have started to work on prints and drawings, focusing a lot on power dressing – with the visual of the suit and the jacket.
Have you noticed a difference in how men and women react to your piece?
I noticed that women tend to laugh a lot more; people seem to understand it in different ways. When I show it to guys for the first time, they’ll sometimes be more quiet. I definitely think that it depends on the person.
Your work has been featured in exhibits in both NL and MTL. Are there any new events coming up or a particular place you hope to be featured in someday?
Definitely Vancouver! I like the Vancouver Art Gallery because I went there a lot as a kid. I go there every time I visit home in BC; it’s just a really special spot. It was so extravagant to me as a kid that it would just mean a lot.
What has this achievement meant to you, and what will it mean for you now moving forward?
It was redeeming. I put a lot of hours, hundreds of hours of work, into this project – and a lot of heart. So, it felt really good. After graduation, you get so much rejection and a hard reality check. This achievement gave me hope and a sense that I’m doing the right thing. On the phone, they said that this year was incredibly close; I am biased – of course – but my class was really strong. I’m so proud that I get to represent my class; there are just so many strong artists there.
Lately, I’ve been applying to things. I hope to get my residency soon so I can have a place, time, and resources to do more of this work. I’ve been working a lot on residency applications and sketches, drafting ideas about what I’d want to make when I have access to sufficient supplies and a bigger space.