Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

2015 Gershon Iskowitz Prizewinner Sandra Meigs opens exhibition at Art Gallery of Ontario

TORONTO  Sandra Meigs, the recipient of the 2015 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO, returns to Toronto this fall with an immersive installation created specifically for the AGO titled Sandra Meigs: Room for Mystics (with Christopher Butterfield). Bringing together paintings, wall hangings, a sculptural mobile and a sound installation by composer Christopher Butterfield, Room for Mystics opens at the AGO on Oct. 19, 2017 and runs to Jan. 14, 2018.

Curated by Adelina Vlas, the AGO’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Sandra Meigs: Room for Mystics (with Christopher Butterfield) will be located on the 5th Floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower (the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art) and consists of 30 large-scale paintings stationed throughout the gallery floor space, 13 fabric wall banners, a large mobile hung from the ceiling, a custom-designed  sound system, and a recurrent 15-minute musical performance by the Vox Aeris brass trio. For details on the performance schedule, please visit

“Sandra Meigs is an artist with an exceptional vision, and her new work in collaboration with Christopher Butterfield is a remarkable achievement,” says Vlas. “The multi-sensorial environment created by the two artists invites us to contemplation and transports us to a different place.”

The Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO is one of Canada's most prestigious and generous awards in the visual arts. The Prize is awarded to a Canadian artist whose work has made a significant contribution to the visual arts in Canada, as determined by a jury composed of a selection of Foundation trustees and invited artists and curators. The Prize is given annually, with the winning artist presenting an exhibition two years after the award.

According to Thomas Bjarnason, President of the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation, “Sandra Meigs joins 35 distinguished Canadian artists awarded the Gershon Iskowitz Prize since its inauguration in 1986. She is an audacious painter and an astute risk taker with a quirky imagination and a knack for complex narrative. She always surprises and pushes the boundaries.”

Meigs will give a free public talk on Oct. 18, 2017 in the AGO’s Jackman Hall at 5:30 p.m. This will be followed by a free public reception in Walker Court and the first performance by the Vox Aeris brass trio.

AGO members receive free admission to Sandra Meigs: Room for Mystics (with Christopher Butterfield). More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at

Sandra Meigs: Room for Mystics (with Christopher Butterfield) is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

In Partnership with:

The Gershon Iskowitz Foundation

Contemporary programming at the AGO is generously supported by:

Canada Council for the Arts


For over 35 years Sandra Meigs has created vivid, immersive, and enigmatic paintings that combine complex narratives with comic elements. She derives the content of her work from her own personal experiences, and develops these to create visual metaphors related to the psyche. In Room for Mystics, Meigs welcomes AGO visitors to enjoy the exuberance of Meigs’s mind, immersing themselves in bright colours, joyful shapes, and the extravagance of a brass musical performance.

A recipient of a Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts in 2015, Meigs has an extensive exhibition history, with over 40 solo and 60 group exhibitions in Canada and abroad. She has been featured in solo exhibitions at Mercer Union and The Power Plant, Toronto, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Musée Regional de Rimouski, Carlton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver and the Musée des Beaux arts de Montreal.

Born in Baltimore in 1953, Meigs studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (B.F.A. 1975) and Dalhousie University (M.A. 1980).  She has lived and worked in Canada since 1973 and for the past 23 years has taught in the Visual Arts Department of the University of Victoria. Meigs is represented by the Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto which has presented her installation and painting projects since 1993.


Christopher Butterfield is a composer and director of the School of Music at the University of Victoria. Born in Vancouver in 1952, he lived in Toronto between 1977 and 1992, where he was active as a freelance musician and artist. His music has been performed by many of Canada’s leading ensembles and abroad, his installation work has been shown at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and YYZ and Mercer Union in Toronto. In 2012 he collaborated with Sandra Meigs on Contes pour enfants pas sages, settings of stories by the French writer Jacques Prévert.


The Gershon Iskowitz Foundation is a private charitable foundation established in 1986 through the generosity of painter Gershon Iskowitz (1921 – 1988). Iskowitz recognized the importance of grants in the development of artists in Canada, in particular acknowledging that a grant from the Canada Council in 1987 gave him the freedom to create his distinctive style. Iskowitz’s works are in public and private collections across Canada and abroad. The Foundation’s principal activity is the designation of the Prize which is unique in that one can neither apply nor be nominated. A second distinct characteristic which many of the recipients have commented on is that the Prize is an excellent example of an artist supporting other artists. Iskowitz himself was actively involved in designating the Prize in its first years. After his death, this responsibility passed to juries composed of trustees of the Foundation and invited artists and curators. The achievements of the first 20 years of the Foundation and the Prize are detailed in the publication The Gershon Iskowitz Prize, 1986 – 2006.


At the 20-year mark of the Prize, the Foundation formed a collaborative partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario to raise awareness of the importance of the Prize and through it visual arts in Canada. The AGO is home to Iskowitz’s archives, which include early works on paper, sketchbooks and memorabilia, and it holds 29 paintings by Iskowitz spanning from 1948 to 1987 in its collection. Beginning in 2006, the Prize has included a solo exhibition of the winner’s work at the Gallery. Among the many previous recipients of the Prize are Rebecca Belmore, Shary Boyle, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Stan Douglas, Geoffrey Farmer, Vera Frenkel, General Idea, Betty Goodwin, Mark Lewis, Liz Magor, John Massey, Michael Snow, Françoise Sullivan, Irene F. Whittome and Shirley Wiitasalo. More information may be found in the Foundation’s publication in addition to its website at

With a collection of close to 95,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more.

Sept. 30, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018: Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters

Oct. 21, 2017 – Jan. 28, 2018: Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry

Mar. 3, 2018 – May 27, 2018: Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners. 


For hi-res images and other press inquiries, please contact:

Carly Maga; Communications Officer
416-979-6660, ext. 403,

Samantha Chater; Communications Officer
416-979-6660, ext. 504,

Share and Enjoy: