Inuvialuk artist Kablusiak has been named a finalist for the 2023 Sobey Art Award. The boundary-pushing multidisciplinary artist, based in Calgary, AB, is vying against four other artists from across Canada for the $100,000 annual prize.
Kablusiak, who represents the Prairies/North category, was among 25 longlisted artists named on April 26. This is their second time as a Sobey Art Award finalist; they were shortlisted for the award in 2019.
Each of the five shortlisted artists, who also includes Séamus Gallagher (Atlantic), Anahite Norouzi (Quebec), Michèle Pearson Clarke (Ontario) and Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill (West Coast & Yukon), receives $25,000, with their work appearing in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in Ontario this fall. The winner will be announced on November 18 at a ceremony held at the NGC.
“The work of the five finalists present views on many urgent matters of our time, including 2SLGBTQ+ solidarities and representation, as well as critical questions regarding diasporic experience and Canadian identity,” said Jonathan Shaughnessy, the Director of Curatorial Initiatives and the National Gallery of Canada and Chair of the 2023 Sobey Award Jury. “The breadth of practices this year represents the multifaceted texture and strength of contemporary artistic talent in this country.”
Kablusiak incorporates sly humour and striking visuals into their work across a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, textiles and drawing, to draw attention to subjects such as mental health, domestic life, community, gender expression and sexuality. In addition to the Sobey, Kablusiak is currently shortlisted for the 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award (KAMA), alongside fellow finalists Billy Gauthier, Maureen Gruben, Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona and Ningiukulu Teevee. Kablusiak was also shortlisted for the 2021 KAMA prize.
In 2022, Kablusiak’s work appeared on the cover of the Inuit Art Quarterly’s Spring 2022 issue as well as on a 10-ft mural at OCAD’s Onsite Gallery in Toronto, ON, with their work at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival receiving the 2022 Gattuso Prize. If Kablusiak takes home the 2023 Sobey Art Award, they will achieve another major career milestone as the third Inuk artist in the award’s 20-year history to do so. In 2021, Laakkuluk Willamson Bathory won the prize, preceded by Annie Pootoogook (1969–2016), who was named winner in 2006.