Casey Koyczan longlisted for Sobey Art Award

Casey Koyczan longlisted for Sobey Art Award

An artist from Yellowknife is among those longlisted for a leading Canadian visual arts award.

Earlier this week, the National Gallery of Canada and Sobey Art Foundation announced the 30 contemporary visual artists across Canada longlisted for the Sobey Art Award –one of the most prestigious and well-paid art awards in Canada.

Among them is Casey Koyczan, a Dene artist.

“It feels good to be longlisted and to be recognized for my artwork and work ethic, and it’s also great to see so many of my friends on the list,” Koyczan told Cabin Radio in an email.

“I’m proud to represent the NWT at this stage,” he added, thanking Sarah Swan, a longtime director with the Yellowknife Artist-Run Community Centre, for nominating him, and for her work helping northern artists reach a broader audience.



Koyczan said he has created many styles of work using a variety of mediums. Since the pandemic, he said his work has heavily leaned toward digital creation using the likes of 3D, virtual reality and augmented reality.

For the Sobey Art Award, Koyczan entered his walk-cycle series Tadǫetła; Walk In A Circle and the short VR film Ełeghàà; All At Once.

“Both contemporary artworks exhibited a lot over the last year and are very much part of my Dene culture and where I’m from,” he said.

Tadǫetła; Walk In A Circle, by Casey Koyczan.

Ełeghàà; All At Once, by Casey Koyczan.

An exhibition of Koyczan’s digital work was held at the Yellowknife visitors’ centre gallery last summer.



Koyczan also won an award from the Northwest Territories Professional Media Association in the best VR/360/Interactive category for Ełeghàà; All at Once. It was one of several films by circumpolar Indigenous artists showcased at the 2022 Arctic Arts Summit in Whitehorse and that year’s Venice Biennale, an international art exhibition held in Italy every two years.

Koyczan is one of five artists longlisted for the Sobey Art Award from the circumpolar region, a category newly created by organizers that spans Nunavut, northern Quebec, northern Labrador, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Five artists were also longlisted in each of the award’s Pacific, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions.

“The North definitely has its own style when it comes to artwork, so it’s great to see that inclusion from the gallery and foundation,” Koyczan said of the new circumpolar category.

“The category will help to inspire future generations of artists, as it provides equal opportunity for creative thinking and expression.”

The shortlist for the award will be announced on June 11. Works by the six shortlisted artists will be featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada from October 4, 2024 to March 16, 2025. The overall winner will be announced on November 9.

The award offers a total of $465,000 in prize money with $100,000 going to the winner, $25,000 to five other shortlisted artists and $10,000 to the remaining longlisted artists.

Kablusiak, a Yellowknife-born Inuvialuk artist, won the 2023 award as a nominee under the former Prairies and North region.

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