Murray Clerkson Award given to young Creemore artist 0
Bleak emotion stood out amidst landscapes and sculptures at the Murray Clerkson award ceremony Wednesday night.
Winner Rachel Thomas submitted a painting of her grandfather, an air force pilot, who witnessed many fellow pilots plummet to their death.
"A lot of the time the images that come up, for me especially, and my family's past, are very beautiful. I try to capture that, it's something more sorrowful," said Thomas.
The raw emotion Thomas captures in her work are what made her stand out amongst the other finalists.
"When you look at her work you can see the emotion involved," said committee member Wendy Hickey. "That and her technique made her stand out."
Thomas tries to capture the darker human emotions, whether it be personal, as with the painting of her grandfather, or general sorrow that connects people.
"I'm inspired by the darker side of humanity. Things like grieving and pain, stuff like that. It seems to be a field that not a lot of people experiment in," said Thomas.
In addition to the artist's work and technique, the Murray Clerkson award committee looks for someone who is dedicated to their work, and will continue to add to the local art scene in the area.
Murray Clerkson was an eccentric artist who died three years ago. He was a supporter of up-and-coming artists in the Georgian Triangle area, and left money to be given out to local artists to support and develop their careers.
"She's committed," said committee chair Joan Paul. "Mr. Clerkson wanted someone who was an emerging artist, and also someone committed to their art."
As a budding artist, the 21-year-old is currently going to York University for Visual Art. The program has helped her develop as an artist and has given her the space to try new techniques.
"By meeting people, not only meeting the professors, but meeting other artists in the program, it' s really helped me expand my knowledge and my learning process," said Thomas.
Thomas comes from a family who understands the importance of the arts. Her father, Steven Thomas, is the Artistic Director of Theatre Collingwood, and knew he had to support his daughter in visual art.
"I'm very proud of my daughter," said the elder Thomas. "With her commitment and her hard work, along with her God-given talent, I'm hoping, praying, this is going to go a long way."
Steven Thomas said he and his wife support the arts because it's a way of leaving a legacy.
"The art in itself is what its all about," said Steven Thomas. "Art and culture are the things that people do remember, and will remember for a long time. If you want to leave a mark in the world, it's a great way to do it in the arts."
Thomas hopes to eventually be able to teach art at the university level while she continues to develop her own work.
As winner of the Murray Clerkson award, she received $1,000 dollars, and her work, along with the four other finalists, will be on exhibition and for sale at the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts.