In recognition of an exceptional career dedicated to the tireless promotion of Canadian visual arts, Carleton University’s Diana Nemiroff has been recognized by the Canada Council for the Arts with the 2012 Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution.
“This is a very big deal for me,” said Nemiroff, director of the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG). “In my field this is the most important award that I could win. And winning a specifically Canadian award that is considered to be the pinnacle of recognition makes it especially meaningful to me.”
The award was announced today in Toronto by Robert Sirman, director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nemiroff is among eight recipients being recognized for groundbreaking work in Canada’s dynamic art scene. In addition to a $25,000 prize from the Canada Council, each winner will receive a special issue medallion sponsored by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Nemiroff, a pioneer in the field of contemporary Canadian art, won a lifetime achievement award from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries in 2011 and was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada. She has made an enduring impact on the art landscape and curatorial practice in the country. Appointed as director of CUAG in 2005, she put the gallery on a stable financial footing, found more public funding to allow its curator to travel and do more writing, and has managed the process of digitizing the entire collection of 27,000 items.
“That was the missing link when I arrived here,” said Nemiroff. “For the past seven years we have worked hard to make this huge collection more accessible to Carleton’s community and beyond.”
Before joining Carleton, Nemiroff was a senior curator at the National Gallery of Canada. In her nomination letter, her successor Kitty Scott wrote: “Nemiroff is an extraordinary and deeply influential figure in the landscape of Canadian art and curatorial practice. She has made the importance of curatorial work visible and her intense respect for and engagement with artists, exceptional commitment to the advancement of understanding of contemporary visual arts in Canada, and continuing support as a curator, writer, educator, critic and advocate have made, and continue to make, a truly remarkable contribution to Canadian contemporary art.”
Nemiroff is set to retire from Carleton University in June but she does not plan to stop working. She wants to write more and will continue to work with artists.
“It’s time for me to be more selfish in a way,” she said. “Retirement isn’t about me disappearing, it’s about me taking time for my own reading and research. I will be more choosy about what I work on and hope to give back in an intellectual way.”
The Governor General of Canada will present the 2012 awards at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, March 28 at 6 p.m.
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