The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient for Professional Achievement is Reva Stone
The recipients of the 2017 University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Awards have been selected, representing graduates who are outstanding in their professional and personal lives. These honourees encompass a wide range of achievement, innovation and community service and inspire fellow alumni, current students and the community.
Reva Stone’s [BA/68, BFA (Hons)/85] articulate vision and provoking artworks have helped to define the genre of new media.
The artist’s large-scale installations use technology to comment on the constantly changing relationship between human and machine. She explores science and technology, from protein molecules to autonomous robots, while her audience grapples with concepts such as private versus public and what it means to be human.
Stone works with Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art to guide developing artists, and has participated in Artists in the School for many years, making connections in communities that often don’t have ready access to artists.
Reva Stone received the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Art in 2015.
In Her Own Words
Reva Stone had a chance to tell us about their time at the U of M, how taking chances is important and some of her other thoughts, memories and musings.
I graduated through painting, but that was because it gave me the most flexibility. I had keys to both the painting and sculpture studios; I think it was the first time anyone had keys to both.
When I did go back and take Fine Arts, I thought, “I only live once.” My father had died quite young, and I wanted to do what I wanted to do with my life.
I didn’t fit into a well-defined category. I was nailing things to my canvas.
In my family, I was the first to go to university. I was supposed to be a nurse or a teacher, something practical.
To actually call myself an artist, that wasn’t until art school. I knew then I was making art that had crossed a border, a self-imposed border, and I was giving myself permission to be an artist.
It surprised me that I was such an explorer. I became someone who was comfortable with taking chances.
This community allows for many kinds of arts practice. The Vancouver community at that time was photo-based, Toronto was more conceptual, but our community in Winnipeg had a bit of everything. It was very supportive.
I do a ton of research. I’m really research and development based.
Not everything is successful. Everything is research and development and prototyping, and sometimes it doesn’t get farther.
There are things that can be said subtly—important things—visually, and I think that’s underrated. We live in a very visual world today but it’s visual, not critical.
(On her new work on UAVs): I’m talking about collateral damage, the things that slip past us but are hugely affecting people in other parts of the world: who gets chosen, how they get targeted. It’s mostly a computer algorithm; there’s no real verification. It’s basically violating, at times, international law.
I want the viewer to take away what they see. I put in lots of layers that I know are there. I’m not an absolutist, I’m the exact opposite.
People bring their knowledge to it and they interpret it their own way. Sometimes I think, “Wow, I’m surprised by your reaction,” but everything’s valid. I learn from people.
Everyone wants to say something, and sometimes there are better ways of saying it.
This city has very strong women artists, but that’s not the same in the rest of the world. After all this time, women are still under-represented in a lot of shows. Things are better, yes, but they’re not up there.
I often felt like an art missionary (doing Artists in the School). I was going into communities that don’t always have artists, not even art sometimes. Kids could know that it could be something you can do, and that it’s more than painting.
I didn’t (think about legacy) until I received the Governor General’s award. I didn’t think about how I was viewed in the world. But we had to keep that a secret for a long time, and I found myself reviewing my art. I wasn’t the earliest, in what I do, but I really am a pioneer in many ways.
This Distinguished Alumni Award is amazing, to be recognized as a professional artist with a career. That’s important for artists to see.