Newly minted alumna wins BMO 1st Art Award

Untitled by Ambera Wellmann. Oil on wood panel, 40.6 x 50.8 cm.

On Ambera Wellmann’s blog, she’s posted an image of one of her cloud paintings—Cloud 47—with the note, “The. Very. Last. Cloud … possibly Ever.”

Never say never—a later cloud work has just won her the Nova Scotia prize in the BMO Financial Group’s 1st Invitational Student Art Competition. But this cloud is a little different than the other dark and forbidding thunderheads that have so intrigued her over the past few years; it’s a tidy puff of white with a jet exploding out of its centre.

“It’s a very charged moment,” explains Ambera (BFA 2011), from Bridgewater. In one second, the jet is visible; in another it’ll vanish, swallowed up by blue sky. “It’s moving so quickly that it’s about to disappear.”

As a regional winner, she receives $2,500 for her untitled painting, which becomes part of the BMO’s corporate art collection. It will also go on display as part of the 1st Art! 2011 exhibition, to be held at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in October. She’s thrilled: she’s being flown to Toronto for the opening, put up in a hotel and gets to meet the judges.

“This is a really nice one to get,” she says. “It has a lot of perks.”

Previous winners from NSCAD University—Adam Gunn (BFA 2010) and Thomas Chisholm (BFA 2004)—are now in the running for the 2011 RBC Canadian Painting Competition, which is aimed at artists in the first five years of their career.

The BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition is a considered a top award for graduating students. Deans and instructors of undergraduate certificate, diploma, and degree programs in visual art are invited to select three students from their graduating classes whose skill and imagination place them at the top of their peers. A distinguished panel of judges chooses an overall national winner and one winner from each eligible province and territory.