Close-Up: Gulf Island Community Embraces Salt Spring National Art Prize

Finalists' Exhibition - Sep 21 - Oct 21
by Michael Turner
Now in its third season, the Salt Spring National Art Prize is a biennial competition and exhibition of Canadian visual art. With the competition’s submission deadline of May 31 fast approaching, Preview spoke with artist and SSNAP founding director Ronald T. Crawford.
Preview: SSNAP is open to submissions in all artistic media. What percentage is 3-D work, and is this percentage reflected in the 50 works selected for exhibition?
Crawford: About one in four works submitted is three-dimensional. In 2015 we had 15 sculptural works and in 2017 we had 13 in the Finalists’ Exhibition, so the representation is close to 25%.
Preview: How has the Salt Spring Island community responded to the SSNAP exhibition and awards?
Crawford: The community has really embraced the prize. Over 110 volunteers worked on the events associated with the month-long Finalists’ Exhibition last time. About 50% of our expenses are covered by generous local donors and sponsors. Through the schools our local youth visit the exhibition and participate in workshops. We had over 5,000 participate in the month-long events in 2017, with about 4,000 from an island of 11,000 people – that’s not bad. From September 21 to October 19 we run a Creative Panel Event, the Finalist Artist Talks and The Parallel Art Show, which highlights Gulf Island artists. The opening of our Finalists’ Exhibition drew 400 people, with 30 of the 50 fi nalists coming from all over Canada.

Judy Anderson, This one brings me the most pride,
2017, beadwork mixed media installation. Photo: Andrew Barcham

Preview: What is the biggest thing SSNAP has learned since its inception?
Crawford: That it takes a whole community to do something like this. That visual artists across Canada need more support; not just highly curated government support, but equal opportunities to exhibit their talent based on their work and judged by qualified national jurists. After seeing over 2,000 artists’ work from every corner of Canada in the first two seasons, we have some insight into what this country is capable of, and how our own West Coast artists’ work compares and qualifies with respect to the national conversation.
Gala Awards Night Oct 19

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