Kootenay sculptor Lou Lynn wins $25,000 national art award

·3 min read
Lou Lynn, based in Winlaw in B.C.'s Slocan Valley, has won the Saidye Bronfman Award this year, part of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.  (Janet Dwyer - image credit)
Lou Lynn, based in Winlaw in B.C.'s Slocan Valley, has won the Saidye Bronfman Award this year, part of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. (Janet Dwyer - image credit)

Lou Lynn, artist and sculptor based in the Slocan Valley of B.C.'s West Kootenay region, has won the Saidye Bronfman Award, as part of this year's Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

The $25,000 Saidye Bronfman Award was created in 1977 by Canada's Bronfman Family and became a Governor General's award in 2007.

Lynn lives and runs a studio in Winlaw, a small community of 400 residents about a 40-minute drive northwest of Nelson, B.C.

Educated in the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, the Kootenay-based artist enjoys combining glass and metals in her artwork. In 2016, she held a two-month exhibition at Nelson's Touchstones Museum of Art and History, showcasing artworks made of bronze and glass inspired by buttons and kitchen utensils.

Using glass and bronze, Lynn also casts kitchen and home utensils that, once found in all homes, are now obscure.
Using glass and bronze, Lynn also casts kitchen and home utensils that, once found in all homes, are now obscure.

"It makes us think about our histories as makers and about the hand, mind and body working in concert to create beautiful and functional objects that enrich our world," say Craft Council of British Columbia's executive director Raine Mckay and artist Amy Gogarty — who jointly nominated Lynn for the award — in a written statement Tuesday.

Lynn says the COVID-19 pandemic has posed tremendous challenges to artists.

"I slowly saw myself and then a number of my peers' opportunities started drying up," she said Wednesday to Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South. "It was a difficult time to be productive [as an artist] because this pandemic is all consuming."

Lynn previously taught professional practices in the art industry with the Kootenay School of Arts in Nelson for 14 years. She has delivered over 80 workshops across Canada teaching artists how to sell their works.

"Artists actually can do business and they need to do business," she said.

Lou Lynn said she enjoys combining glass and metals in her artwork. In 2016, she held a two-month exhibition at Nelson’s Touchstones Museum of Art and History, showcasing artworks of bronze and glass inspired by buttons and kitchen utensils.
Lou Lynn said she enjoys combining glass and metals in her artwork. In 2016, she held a two-month exhibition at Nelson’s Touchstones Museum of Art and History, showcasing artworks of bronze and glass inspired by buttons and kitchen utensils.

Lynn says she hopes artists could receive more support from local communities during the pandemic.

"People are going out of the way to try and support the small businesses, and I would hope that it's the case with artists as well," she said.

Besides the Saidye Bronfman Award, the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts include six Artistic Achievement Awards and an Outstanding Contribution Award.

Tahltan-Tlingit master carver Dempsey Bob, based in Terrace, is one of the two B.C. recipients of the Governor General's awards. He won the Artistic Achievement Award.

The Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts were created in 1999 by then governor general Adrienne Clarkson and the Canada Council for the Arts. Each winner will receive a $25,000 prize.

Tap the link below to hear Lou Lynn's interview on Daybreak South: