The Universities Art Association (UAAC) recognizes excellence through the honours and awards programs which also serve to acknowledge the work of its members. UAAC annually presents three awards:

Award Nomination

Current UAAC-AAUC members can submit nominations for the UAAC-AAUC Recognition Award and Lifetime Achievement Award. Nominations for these awards are received and approved by the Board of Directors. The deadline for nomination is August 1st. This award is usually presented at the UAAC-AAUC annual conference each fall.

Award Eligibility and Process

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Graduate Student Essay Award

Graduate students who presented papers at the current annual UAAC-AAUC conference can submit complete versions of their essays, in English or French, for consideration by the UAAC-AAUC Board for the Annual Graduate Student Essay Award. The winning essay will be awarded a $250 prize and will be published in the subsequent spring issue of RACAR.

Year Recipient Essay
2020 Marie Ferron-Desautels Satire et sociabilité au cœur de la pratique caricaturale de Lady Dalhousie (1786–1839) : vers une histoire des femmes caricaturistes britanniques
2019 Sarah Carter India and the Antiquarian Image: Richard Payne Knight’s A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus
2018 Caitlin E. Ryan Eli Lotar and Jacques-André Boiffard aboard the Exir Dallen
2017 Vanessa Bateman Ursus Horribilis: Seth Kinman’s Grizzly Chair at the World’s Columbian Exposition
2016 Elysia H. French Transformations of Oil: Visibility, Scale, and Climate in Warren Cariou’s Petrography
2015 Elizabeth Anne Cavaliere Onward! Canadian Expansionist Outlooks and the Photographs that Serve Them
2014 Kathryn Desplanque Repeat Offenders: Reprinting Visual Satire Across France’s Long Eighteenth Century
2013 Jennifer Orpana Turning the World Inside Out: Situating JR’s Wish within Cultures of Participation
2012 Erin McLeod By a Wing and a Tale: Authenticating the Archive in Mohamad Said Baalbaki’s Al Buraq | The Prophet’s Human-Headed Mount

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Recognition Award

Established in 2010, the UAAC-AAUC Recognition Award acknowledges members who have demonstrated their unselfish and devoted service to our association and their commitment to our profession’s ideals. These individuals have shown leadership and have made significant contributions to the organization. To honour the UAAC-AAUC conference’s 50th anniversary in 2017, the board decided that, henceforth, a lifetime membership in the association will accompany this award.

2020 UAAC-AAUC Recognition Award: Dr. Martha Langford

It is an honour to present the UAAC Recognition Award to long-time UAAC member Martha Langford, Distinguished University Research Professor, Art History and Research Chair and Director of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art at Concordia University, where she has worked since 2004.

Martha’s arrival at Concordia was something of a second, third or fourth act; with undergraduate training in photography from NSCAD University in Halifax, Martha went on to work for more than two decades in “government” as the Executive Producer of the National Film Board, Still Photography Division, from 1981 to 1985, and, following her rallying of Canada’s photographic community toward the establishment of a permanent institution to promote Canadian photography, overseeing the transfer of the NFB’s still photography collection to the NGC-affiliated Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, where she was chief curator and founding director from 1985 to 1994. Martha earned her Ph.D. at McGill University in 1997, her first book Suspended Conversations: The Afterlife of Memory in Photographic Albums (MQUP 2001) the product of her meticulous research into vernacular photographic albums from 1860 to 1960 held at the McCord Museum in Montreal. Additional publications include Scissors, Paper, Stone: Expressions of Memory in Contemporary Photographic Art (MQUP 2007), the edited volume Image & Imagination (MQUP 2005), a scholarly accompaniment to her city-wide, 29-exhibition Mois de la Photo a Montreal 2005, where she was Artistic Director, the edited volume Narratives Unfolding: National Art Histories in an Unfinished World (MQUP 2016), and, alongside her brother John Langford, A Cold War Tourist and his Camera (MQUP) in 2011. She is also editor of the Journal of Canadian Art History and, alongside Sandra Paikowsky, the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation Studies in Art Histories series for McGill-Queen’s University Press. Her many-decades-long preoccupation with the work, mind, and perception of Michael Snow has led to various publications on his practice; her even longer engagement as a maker, curator, mobilizer, and scholar of Canadian photography has led to authoritative texts on the subject—terrain that she continues not only to confront, but also to expand and complicate.

Throughout her tenure as Director of the Jarislowsky Institute, Martha has redefined the conversation about Canadian art, positioning the subject as one incorporating a plurality of approaches, mirrored by her promotion of networks of exchange between scholars across disciplines and geographies. As a teacher, she models mentorship at its finest, making not only space for emerging voices, but also circuits and platforms through which to amplify them—I am but one of the many products of her mentorship.

Martha’s countless accomplishments and contributions have been formally recognized with her induction as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, in 2018. An anecdote she shared with me many years ago was that while working at the NGC, she would hide her dress shoes in plant pots around the gallery to quickly change into, out of her sneakers, should official business arise; as Kristy Holmes said during our annual board meeting the other day, “Martha IS an institution.”

The UAAC bestows this award to Martha in recognition of her commitment to our organization as a node in the network of ecologies to which she contributes, with gratitude for her boundless energy and belief in the ability to bring to life all that can be imagined, and her deft understanding of systems and institutions—how to work with them, and how to make them work.

Year Recipient
2020 Martha Langford
2019 Annie Gérin
2018 Lynda Jessup and Sally Hickson
2017 Lora Senechal Carney
2016 Nicole Dubreuil
2015 Joyce Zemans
2014 David McTavish
2013 Brian Foss
2012 Barbara Winters
2011 Mary and Alan Hughes
2010 Catherine Harding and Allister Neher

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Lifetime Achievement Award

The UAAC-AAUC Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a past or present member of UAAC who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession over the whole of a career either through leadership, creation, education, curatorial projects, service, or publications.

2020 UAAC-AAUC Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. John O’Brian

The 2020 UAAC Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to Dr. John O’Brian, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.

Prolific as both a writer and a curator, O’Brian is best known for Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, one of The New York Times “Notable Books of the Year” in 1986. He has authored or edited another 20 books, including Ruthless Hedonism: The American Reception of Matisse (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and Through Post-Atomic Eyes (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020), along with numerous articles. His most recent book, The Bomb in the Wilderness: Photography and the Nuclear Era in Canada, published by the University of British Columbia Press in 2020, is the first substantial examination of Canada’s nuclear footprint through a photographic lens. Highlights of his curatorial career include Strangelove’s Weegee at Presentation House in North Vancouver in 2013, After the Flash at WORK Gallery in London (UK) in 2015, Camera Atomica at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2015, and Bombhead at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2018. The consummate polymath, John is also a poet and an artist. His short film Octozilla, produced with Gregory Coyes, was shown at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2018, and other art projects include Ci elegans, produced with Marina Roy at SFU Galleries in 2017, Sixteen Nuclear Power Stations at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2013, and Multiplication at the Catriona Jeffries Gallery in Vancouver in 1998.

O’Brian has been the recipient of many distinguished awards and recognitions, including the Janet Braide Award for outstanding scholarship in Canadian art history in 1990, a Senior Research Fellowship at the Canadian Centre for the Visual Arts in Ottawa in 1992-93, a Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute Visiting Lectureship in India in 1996-1997, a Killam Research Prize at the University of British Columbia in 2000, a Visiting Research Professorship at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto in 2007, the Brenda & David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of British Columbia from 2008-2011, and the Thakore Award in Human Rights and Peace Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2011. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2009, O’Brian also holds an honorary doctorate from Trinity College at the University of Toronto, and in 2016 was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at the University of Toronto.

Anyone who has worked with John O’Brian knows how seriously (and playfully) he takes his role as a leader, advisor and mentor in the field of art history in Canada. From 1989 to 1991, he was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and from 1991 to 1998 a Special Advisor to the board of the National Gallery of Canada. In 2020 he was appointed an External Advisor to the National Gallery. He has also been involved with the Harvard University Art Museum, Polygon Gallery and Belkin Art Gallery. A longstanding supporter of the Universities Art Association of Canada, John co-organized, with Landon Mackenzie and David McWilliam, the 1997 UAAC conference hosted by Emily Carr University and the University of British Columbia. As a professor at the University of British Columbia from 1987-2017, O’Brian taught and mentored a few generations of art historians. He held the Brenda & David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies from 2008 to 2011, and was an Associate of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. John’s former colleagues and students describe him as an open-minded, rigorous, enthusiastic, generous, kind, and patient mentor and teacher who, to quote a recent graduate student, “creates opportunities and connections for his students that go well beyond his role as professor and beyond the academy.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was inaugurated in 2019 to celebrate a past or present member of UAAC who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession over the whole of a career either through leadership, creation, education, curatorial projects, service or publications. With the recognition that he has made outstanding contributions to each one of these areas, the Board of the Universities Art Association of Canada is delighted and honoured to present John O’Brian with this well-deserved award.

Year Recipient
2020 John O’Brian
2019 Sandra Alfoldy

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