Every four years, in honour of the enduring legacy of Yousuf and Malak Karsh, the City of Ottawa recognizes a local mid-career or established artist for their outstanding body of work and their significant contribution to the artistic discipline in a photo/lens-based medium.
Deadline: Wednesday, January 11, 2023, at 4 pm.
Nominations must be submitted by the deadline.
Late submissions will not be accepted.
2023 Laureate – Award, Exhibition, Mentorship
Between 2023-2026 the Karsh laureate will:
- receive an award of $7,500
- be invited to exhibit their work in 2024 at the Karsh-Masson Gallery located in City Hall. The laureate will be paid an exhibition fee, as outlined in the 2024 CARFAC fee schedule, and can choose to either:
- select an independent curator for their exhibition or
- increase the size and scope of their exhibition catalogue
- be invited, in 2025, to participate as a paid mentor to:
- mentor and/or engage the local photographic or lens-based community by leading one or more activities, such as a workshop, portfolio evaluations, lecture, etc. or
- mentor the selected exhibiting artists of the 2026 Karsh Continuum exhibition
- be invited, to participate in the 2026 Karsh Continuum exhibition, by either:
- selecting up to 3 local photo or lens-based artists who will receive an award of $2,000 each and the opportunity to exhibit their work at the Karsh-Masson Gallery or
- assisting in the selection of an independent curator to mount an exhibition celebrating local photographic and/or lens-based art/artists
All exhibiting artists will be paid associated CARFAC fees.
Past laureates include:
2019 Andrew Wright
2016 Michael Schreier
2014 Chantal Gervais
2012 Rosalie Favell
2010 Tony Fouhse
2008 Jeffrey Thomas
2006 Robert Bourdeau
2003 Lorraine Gilbert
2026 Karsh Continuum Exhibition
In 2017, to acknowledge Canada’s sesquicentennial, the City of Ottawa presented the Continuum: Karsh Award artists welcome a new generation. Emerging Ottawa artists were selected by past Karsh Award laureates to participate in a special exhibition that celebrated the future of artistic achievement in photo-based mediums.
To continue to foster an ongoing dialogue around photo or lens-based work, the City of Ottawa, in collaboration with the Karsh laureate, will mount a Karsh Continuum exhibition in the fourth year of the program.
Past artists selected include:
2022: Stéphane Alexis, Shelby Lisk, Neeko Paluzzi
2017: Joi T. Arcand, AM Dumouchel, Leslie Hossack, Olivia Johnston, Julia Martin, Meryl McMaster, Ruth Steinberg
Nomination Process for the Karsh Award
An award candidate must be nominated by a member of the photographic or visual arts community.
Nominators can include:
- a curator or art critic
- a director, curator or board member of a public gallery, museum, or artist-run centre
- a staff or board member of a professional arts organization
- an established cultural connector or community leader with experience in the visual arts discipline
- a visual arts gallery owner
- a professor, chair, or dean of visual arts
- an established professional visual artist
Eligibility for the Karsh Award Nominee
The City of Ottawa encourages submissions from First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, people of colour, persons with disabilities and members of the 2SLGBTQIA communities.
To be eligible, a nominated candidate must be a local mid-career or established, professional photo or lens-based artist who:
- is a current resident* of the city of Ottawa and has lived in Ottawa for at least 12 months at the time of the submission or
is Indigenous and resides in the city of Ottawa, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation or
is Anishinabe Algonquin living within 150 km radius of Ottawa
- has made a significant contribution to the contemporary practices of fine art photography, lens-based and/or digital imagery
- has produced an outstanding body of independent work in the discipline
- has a history of public presentations
- has received recognition from peers
City of Ottawa employees and elected representatives are ineligible for this award. Past laureates cannot be re-considered for the award for a period of 10 years.
*City staff reserve the right to ask for proof of Ottawa residency
A complete submission package must include a Nominator and Nominee form. Both must be submitted by the deadline.
From the Nominator
A completed and signed Nominator form, which includes:
- a one-page covering letter, written by the nominator, outlining artistic achievements and reasons for nomination
From the Nominee
A completed Nominee form, which includes:
- a current professional artist CV (maximum five pages), with emphasis on artistic achievements
- an artist’s statement
- support material
Support material is intended to provide the evaluation committee with an overview of the artistic merit of the nominated candidate’s work and provide a history of his/her development in an independent, non-commercial photo/lens-based art practice.
To demonstrate the nominee’s range of work, with emphasis on more recent imagery, a maximum of 20 samples of work must be provided.
Additionally, you may also submit up to 5 digital documents that provide evidence of the candidate’s achievements, including:
- exhibition catalogues and invitations
- art books
- magazine articles and/or critical reviews
All support documentation must be submitted in digital format:
- Digital images – JPEG format and no larger than 1 MB each
- Video – URL/web links
- Additional support – PDF, Word, JPEG
You will have the choice to upload or provide a link for each file.
Submissions will be assessed through an arm’s length peer evaluation process. A jury composed of professional artists, curators and/or arts professionals will review each submission based on the assessment criteria of the Karsh Award program and select a winning laureate.
Jury members are selected by the Cultural funding support unit for their expertise, knowledge and engagement within photo or lens-based arts practices.
The City of Ottawa adheres to Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality policies in the selection of peer assessors. For more details, please visit the Information for Applicants page of this website.
The assessment criteria used in selecting a laureate are:
- Artistic excellence and innovation
- Strong artistic vision
- High technical standards
- Contribution to the artistic discipline
- Strength of body of work
The laureate and nominator will be notified of the results approximately four months after the deadline date.
The laureate and nominator must agree to keep the results confidential until the date of the public announcement, which will take place in early 2024.
Please note that results cannot be released over the telephone.