ACAD Grad Joel Matthew Warkentin Wins Alberta Regional BMO 1st Art Award


Next Generation of Canadian Artists Shine in 14th Annual BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition

  • BMO Financial Group announces one national winner and 12 regional winners from across Canada
  • The national winner will receive a $10,000 award; the regional winners will each be awarded $5,000
  • All winning works will be showcased from November 17 to December 17, 2016 at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto 

TORONTO, August 4, 2016 – BMO Financial Group today announced the winners of the 14th annual BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition. Presented annually, the competition recognizes visual arts excellence in post-secondary institutions from across Canada.
Winners were selected from 248 submissions. The national winner receives $10,000 and each of the 12 regional winners receives $5,000 in recognition of their accomplishments. All of the BMO 1st Art! winning works will be displayed at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto, from November 17 to December 17, 2016.
“Congratulations to the winners on their outstanding achievements in visual art,” said Gilles Ouellette, Group Head, BMO Wealth Management. “As longstanding supporters of the arts, BMO is proud to celebrate the wealth of present and emerging talent in this country.” 
“We are thrilled to exhibit the exceptional selection of works by the 2016 BMO 1st Art! winners,” said Dawn Cain, Curator, Corporate Art Collection, BMO Financial Group. “Each year, the competition presents a unique platform through which promising Canadian artists have an opportunity to showcase their artistic vision. We look forward to sharing these works with the greater community.”
Deans and instructors of undergraduate certificate, diploma, and degree arts programs from colleges and universities across the country were invited to select three outstanding graduating students from each of their studio specialties to make submissions to the competition.
The 2016 BMO 1st Art! winners are:
National Winner
Nathan Levasseur, University of Alberta
Regional Winners
Alberta: Joel Warkentin, Alberta College of Art & Design

Joel Warkentin
Alberta College of Art & Design

In, Out
Hickory, Cherry, Black Walnut, Wenge
160.2 x 160.2 x 5.08 cm; 63 x 63 x 2 in

British Columbia: Elizabeth Villalva Granda, University of British Columbia
Manitoba: Zahra Baseri, University of Manitoba
New Brunswick: Jennifer McInnis-Wharton, New Brunswick College of Craft & Design
Newfoundland & Labrador: Lucas Morneau, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Nova Scotia: Jordan Blackburn, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University
Nunavut: Alookie Alikatuktuk, Nunavut Arctic College
Ontario: Rouzbeh Akhbari, OCAD University
Prince Edward Island: Dylan McQuaid, Holland College
Quebec: Alexandre Ménard, Université du Québec à Montréal
Saskatchewan: Kristen Auger, First Nations University of Canada
Yukon: Tyler Anderson, Yukon School of Visual Arts
The diverse works produced by the 2016 winners cover a range of themes in a variety of media. They include:

  • A conceptual project, digitally drawn and printed on satin gloss photo paper, that blends contemporary product design aesthetic and language as a way to re-frame the societal relationship between vulnerability, production and capitalism (Levasseur, National Winner)
  • A sculpture that consists of thirty-six individual blocks of hickory, cherry, black walnut and wenge wood, cut and assembled to convey the natural circular growth of trees (Warkentin, Alberta)
  • An intricate piece made of stroud cloth, seed beads, satin and velveteen, that is inspired by the Cree Hoods of the 1970s and strives to embody Indigenous womanhood and connection to Mother Nature (Auger, Saskatchewan)
  • A replica of maize, one of the most important foods in Mesoamerica, with kernels crafted out of US bills to illustrate ongoing issues surrounding consumerism and colonialism between Latin America and the United States (Villalva Granda, British Columbia)
  • A large-scale sculpture that explores relationships and insecurities around intimacy, created through the use of acrylic on plywood (Anderson, Yukon) 

The following panel of esteemed judges chose the winners:  

  • Michelle LaVallee, Associate Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery
  • Jeanie Riddle, Artist and Co-director, Parisian Laundry
  • Kim Simon, Curator, Gallery TPW
  • Pan Wendt, Curator, Confederation Centre Art Gallery 

To view the winning pieces on BMO Financial Group’s website, please visit:
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider based in North America. With total assets of $681 billion as of April 30, 2016, and over 45,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of retail 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, Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.


Media Contacts:
Jessica Bonin, BMO Financial Group,, (416) 867-3996
Valerie Doucet, BMO Financial Group,, (514) 877-8224
To arrange to speak with any of the winners, please contact:
Daniel French, Touchwood PR,, (416) 593-0777 ext. 205