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Mount Allison grad garners national recognition for artwork

Sylvan Hamburger, a recent Mount Allison graduate, was one of 12 regional winners in the BMO 1st Art! Competition. Above, Hamburger works on his winning piece at the Sackville university last spring.
Sylvan Hamburger, a recent Mount Allison graduate, was one of 12 regional winners in the BMO 1st Art! Competition. Above, Hamburger works on his winning piece at the Sackville university last spring. - Contributed

Hamburger selected as New Brunswick winner in BMO 1st Art! Competition

SACKVILLE, N.B. – A graduate of Mount Allison’s Class of 2018 is in the national spotlight for an artwork he created in his final semester last spring.

Sylvan Hamburger is one of 13 emerging Canadian artists recently honoured in the BMO 1st Art! Competition, an annual event that recognizes visual arts excellence among post-secondary and undergraduate-level students from across the country.

“It’s exciting,” said Hamburger from his home in Vancouver last week, where he was taking a break from his tree-planting job this summer. “I just really A distinguished committee of curators, gallery directors and art professors selected the winners out of a pool of 267 submissions. While Clara Couzino from Concordia University won the national prize of $15,000, Hamburger was one of 12 regional winners, representing New Brunswick, and will receive $7,500.

Hamburger’s winning piece, sometimes he wakes up tired and ready to apologize (coalesce), will be showcased at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto this fall.

“I’m excited to see the work up again and to have more conversation about this piece,” said Hamburger.The winners have also been invited to Toronto for two nights to attend the opening reception of the 1st Art! Exhibition at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, where the selected artworks will be showcased from Nov. 15 to Dec. 8.

Entitled sometimes he wakes up tired and ready to apologize (coalesce), Hamburger’s piece consists of 42 brightly-colored jigsaw prints depicting a life-size figure lying on the ground.

Hamburger, who graduated from Mount Allison this past spring with a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in fine arts and minoring in English and geography, works primarily in printmaking, frottage and installation.

This piece, which took about three months to create, was one of his final artworks created for his undergraduate degree and was showcased as part of the fine arts students’ exhibition at the Owens Art Gallery.

“It was a culmination of a lot of things I’ve been working on for the last few years,” he said.

Hamburger said this is one of the first works he’s done on such a large scale and said it was an interesting process trying to figure out how to make such a sizeable installation using printmaking techniques. The final piece was more than eight feet tall and over six feet wide.

“I found it quite exciting to make an image of that scale.”

He said he had to print it in a way that used various blocks, with imagery and colour on each, that he could fit together as puzzle pieces.

“That was the first time I’d worked in that way,” said Hamburger of the modular process he used in putting the piece together. “I was letting it grow as I went along.”

Hamburger will take on an internship this fall at the Banff Arts Centre and said he hopes to continue exploring this way of making imagery.

“I felt I was on to something. There’s a lot more there that could be played with.”

The BMO 1st Art! competition welcomes submissions from a number of artistic media including drawing, printmaking, photography, painting, ceramics, textiles, and three-dimensional works in a variety of materials. Since its inauguration in 2003, BMO 1st Art! has recognized a total of 211 young artists hailing from all corners of Canada.

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