Image: Measure of one (2020) by Azza El Siddique. Steel, expanded steel, water, unfired slip clay, slow-drip irrigation system, EPDM pond liner, cement bricks. Installation view at the Gardiner Museum, Toronto. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
Azza El Siddique, who graduated from OCAD University’s Material Art and Design program in 2014, is among the the five artists shortlisted for the 2022 Sobey Art Award (SAA) The Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada recently announced.
As a member of the shortlist, El Siddique has been awarded $25,000 and is in the running for the grand prize of $100,000 — an amount that places the Sobey among the most valuable honours in the contemporary art world.
The prestigious list has been whittled down from 25 visual artists from five regions across Canada. That longlist was announced earlier this year and included Stephanie Temma Hier, a 2014 OCAD U Drawing and Painting graduate.
Globally recognized, the Sobey Art Award is a catalyst for the careers and work of Canadian artists. In addition to the monetary prize, shortlisted artists will be featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in Ottawa from October 28, 2022 until February 2023. The winner of the SAA will be announced at a gala this fall hosted by the National Gallery. In 2019, Integrated Media graduate Stephanie Comilang was announced as the winner of the grand prize.
Celebrating its 20th year, the awards are adjudicated by an independent jury consisting of curators from Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and the North, and the West Coast and Yukon, in addition to an international juror, who oversees the selection process for each round of the competition.
Born in Khartoum, Sudan, El Siddique’s family immigrated to Vancouver when she was four. She later moved to Toronto where she briefly studied fashion design at Toronto Metropolitan University before enrolling at OCAD U. Since then, she has completed graduate studies in Sculpture at Yale University’s School of Art and now splits her time between Connecticut and New York.
El Siddique is known for her sensual engagement with materials, including vinyl, water, clay, glass and steel. The materials she works with often change once installed in the gallery, evolving throughout a given exhibition.
“Things are calculated but at the same time it’s important to me for materials to have their own agency,” noted El Siddique in a 2020 Canadian Art Magazine article.
“I don’t necessarily dictate how that form is going to collapse, where the water is going to penetrate, the way it decides to fall, the way it completely dissolves or the way it’s still standing but is missing a part. Those are the surprises.”
Through sculpture and installation, she creates environments that often consider and stimulate the senses, beyond the visual. Her work is inspired by a wide range of sources including anthropological texts, mythology and a perennial confrontation of mortality.