melannie monoceros, 2021 Emerging Excellence Prize

melannie monoceros has been awarded the Emerging Excellence Prize, one of the Manitoba Arts Council’s 2021 Prizes in the Arts.

The poet and interdisciplinary artist creates polysensory work that explores somatic grief through text, textile, film and perfomance. melannie considers the collective qrip (queer+crip) consciousness in their work by connecting to marvelous bodies living with complexity as sick or disabled.

Using innovative and unexpected combinations of media such as thematic captioning, audio descriptions and touch, melannie enhances access to their work for different embodied reception. This approach to their work has helped them to connect to their audience during the pandemic, when in-person engagement has not been possible.

“mel’s polysensory artistic approach is intriguing, deeply meaningful, emotionally and physically engaging and, above all, inclusive,” said Jennifer Gibson, Director and curator of Gallery 1C03, and melannie’s nominator. “mel’s efforts and devotion to connecting with the arts community through their performances, talks and workshops are exceptional.”

Since moving to Winnipeg in 2018, melanie has already connected and collaborated with numerous creators and creative organizations. They are an extremely active contributor to Manitoba’s arts community and have participated in exhibitions, delivered talks, and facilitated workshops across the country.

“mel is an artist who centres community and is someone who has touched and inspired many people in Winnipeg and abroad,” said curator Nasrin Himada.   “I am truly honoured to know and to have worked with mel. Their artwork is invaluable and highly contributes to the disciplines of textile, performance, film, and poetry.”

“I often noted that melannie was one of the few folks speaking to the complex intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and disability, in unique ways,” says independent curator and writer, Anu Tadha Verma. Anu recalled how some of melannie’s projects were in support of people who are currently incarcerated, as well as 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. Her work “modelled critical anti-racism, with a focus on the ways Black individuals and communities face barriers within the arts world, and also a focus on imagining new futures.”

“mel’s generosity, rigor, openness, and radical vision when it comes to art and its capacity to change us is contagious and inspirational.”

– Curator Nasrin Himada

A Black creator of Taino and Arawak heritage, they live in Treaty 1/Winnipeg, MB. In 2019, melannie was awarded the JRG Emerging Artist Award for their continued pursuit, integrating technology and accessibility through film via their series “ancestoradio”. melannie’s work was hosted by Gallery 1C03, Window Gallery, and the C2 Centre for Craft, Manitoba Craft Council in 2020 and can be found at the School of Art Gallery at the University of Manitoba in 2021.

The Manitoba Arts Council Prizes in the Arts

The Manitoba Arts Council’s Prizes in the Arts celebrate achievements in the arts, honouring the excellence, resourcefulness, and imagination of individuals, groups, and organizations working in Manitoba.

Emerging Excellence is a $10,000 prize awarded every other year to an emerging artist in recognition of their achievements and potential.

Know someone worth celebrating? This fall, MAC will be accepting nominations for the Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction, recognizing the highest level of artistic excellence and contribution to the development of the arts in Manitoba. Nominate an exceptional artist or arts/cultural professional by December 15, 2021.