By Stephen Weir
TORONTO, Ontario — The annual Scotiabank Photography Award offers the largest cash prize in Canada for photographers — and this year, Deanna Bowen took top honours.
As winner of the Award, Bowen receives a $50,000 cash prize; a solo Primary Exhibition, during the 2022 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival; and a published book of her work, distributed worldwide, by renowned art book publisher, Steidl.
“This win gives me the platform to be bigger in a place that really is all about shrinking things down, and provides the opportunity to reach out to an international community, and make connections with Black artists around the world,” Bowen said. “That’s a big factor in my efforts to help rewrite Canadian cultural history.”
The award comes, a year after the 51-year-old photographer was awarded a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
Bowen, who lived and practiced in Toronto for over two decades, recently moved to Montreal.
She is known for multimedia, multidisciplinary artwork that explores racial prejudice and the history of Black communities in Canada and the United States.
Her work often draws on her own family history, which she traces to ancestors, who were enslaved in the pre-Civil War American south.
Bowen is a descendant of Alabama and Kentucky Black pioneer families, who made their way to Amber Valley and Campsite, in Alberta.
Toronto’s Annie MacDonell, Montreal’s Dawit L. Petros and Six Nation’s Greg Staats, were also finalists for the 2021 Award, and will each receive cash prizes of $10,000.