Prominent Calgary Artist Chris Cran receives Alberta University of the Arts 2021 Honorary MFA

Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) will bestow an Honorary Master of Fine Arts degree to internationally renowned Canadian contemporary artist, former faculty member, and university alumnus Chris Cran at this year’s Convocation ceremony taking place Thursday, May 27. Cran will be honoured by his alma mater during the virtual online ceremony, and he will deliver the Convocation address to graduates from the Class of 2021’s Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Design, and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs.


“I graduated from Alberta College of Art (ACA) in 1979, taught at Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) from 1990 until two years ago, and now I am receiving an Honorary MFA degree from Alberta University of the Arts,” said Cran. “As this great institution has grown, I have had the privilege of growing along with it and because of it. To receive this degree is an incredible honour.”


Cran has influenced visual culture in Canada and globally while living and working in Calgary. The New York Times, described Cran as a painter who “has built a career on tampering with people’s perspectives.” Cran’s artwork is renowned for exploring issues of representation in the construction of personal and cultural identities using perceptual/cognitive illusion, and his work is critically underpinned by a disarming and revelatory sense of humour.


“We are so very proud of Chris Cran being an integral member of our growing community; he has had many influences and connections with Alberta University of the Arts,” said AUArts President and CEO Dr. Daniel Doz. “First, as a student who graduated in the seventies when we were then known as Alberta College of Art. Cran then returned many times over the past 25 years to teach and mentor future enerations of alumni as he built his professional practice. A recent highlight occurred in 2016 at the National Gallery in Ottawa, when his retrospective "Sincerely Yours" beautifully displayed the playfulness and amazing depth of his work. With this recognition we celebrate the outstanding creative achievements of this unique artist and teacher, who has made an indelible imprint on contemporary art.”


“As a long-time fan, admirer and collector of Chris’s works, I am always pleasantly challenged by his use of visual illusions tricking the eye to make us look from all angles and distances to perceive what we see,” said AUArts Board Chair M. Carol Ryder. “What I have always loved about Chris as an artist, is his amazing engaging persona. Chris has had many influences and connections with Alberta University of the Arts, and it is our honour to present him with this honorary degree.”


Cran’s paintings are widely exhibited throughout Canada and internationally. Most recently he has exhibited at Nickle Arts Museum and Glenbow Museum in Alberta, and Mylona Gallery in Switzerland. The National Gallery of Canada in 2016 presented a large survey of Cran’s work that combined exhibitions from the Art Gallery of Alberta and Southern Alberta Art Gallery.


Cran’s paintings are found in numerous private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Canada Council Art Bank, Art Gallery of Alberta, and Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art. Cran was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy in 2002. Cran has received numerous awards including the ACAD Alumni Award of Excellence in 2011, the Doug and Lois Mitchell Outstanding  Calgary Artist Award in 2014 and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Lawrence J. Burpee Medal in 2018.