Yukon Prize for Visual Arts 2023 Finalists Exhibition
Yukon Prize co-founders Julie Jai and David Trick. Photo: Mark Kelly.

Yukon Prize for Visual Arts 2023 Finalists Exhibition

Yukon Prize, Whitehorse, YT - Sep 14 - Nov 17

by Michael Turner

The second biennial Yukon Prize for Visual Arts Celebration Weekend takes place September 14 to 17 in Whitehorse, with the Finalists Exhibition opening at the Yukon Arts Centre. Open to Yukon residents, this year’s competition received submissions from over 60 artists, of which six finalists were chosen for the exhibition. Preview spoke by phone with prize co-founder Julie Jai.

Preview: The Yukon Prize follows the relatively recent Sobey Art Award (2002- ), the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Awards (2014- ) and the Salt Spring National Art Prize (2015- ). In designing and implementing the Yukon Prize for Visual Arts, did you look at some of these visual arts awards for guidance?

Julie Jai: We did look at other awards, mostly the Kingston Prize, started by a couple [Julian Brown and Karaan Brown]. We were interested in how to set up a grassroots prize. We are a community-based prize that relies on individual donations and engagement with local community. Kingston started small then eventually started a charitable organization; the challenge is long-term sustainability, how to keep it going over time.

Preview: What were some of the bigger take-aways from the first Yukon Prize?

Jai: One of the highs was seeing the impact the prize had. We had an idea, then had 25 one-on-one meetings with community members, then meetings outside that, in Toronto. We wanted to serve the arts community, but didn’t know much about the arts community. Once I talked to its members, they got excited and I had to do it. We had 107 submissions, more than twice what I thought we’d get. In picking jurors, we began with a wish list of three from the larger Canadian art world, and all of them said yes.

As for lows, our first year’s prize was given in the middle of COVID. We had done so much work and in the end had to go with a “live” webcast. We had good media coverage, and one of our finalists, Krystle Silverfox, went on to be a finalist for the Sobey Award, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve.

Opening reception Sep 14, 5-7pm

Gala Awards Show and reception Sep 16, 6-9pm


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