AEROPLAN CANADA INC.

AEROPLAN CANADA INC.

April 24, 2008 16:00 ET

Canadian Photographer, Sarah Anne Johnson, Wins $50,000 Grange Prize

    TORONTO, April 24  - The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and
Aeroplan have announced that Winnipeg photographer, Sarah Anne Johnson, is the
winner of the inaugural Grange Prize for Contemporary Photography. The annual
$50,000 prize is the largest of its kind in Canada and the only prize entirely
determined by the public. The announcement was made during a ceremony held at
the Drake Hotel in Toronto. An exhibition of Johnson's work will be on display
at the AGO in spring 2009.
    Johnson is known for her minimalist style. Her work explores the use of
physical labour in the search for utopia. Her images are a mixture of real and
imagined worlds with documentary style photos placed alongside photographs of
small theatrical sets she creates. Inspired by her tree planting experience in
British Columbia and travels in the Galapagos Islands, Johnson's photographs
reflect her connection to nature and her personal struggle to find a balance
between community and landscape.
    Launched in February 2007, and named in honour of the AGO's historic
home, The Grange Prize is a partnership between Aeroplan, Canada's premier
loyalty marketing company, and the AGO that recognizes the best in Canadian
and international contemporary photography. The winner is selected from a
combination of five Canadian and international artists. This year, a jury
comprised of representatives from the AGO and Aeroplan selected three Chinese
artists: Miao Xiaochun, Huang Yan and Liu Zheng and two Canadian artists:
Raymonde April and Johnson. As part of the prize, each artist participates in
a residency program travelling to each other's country to experience the
culture and contemporary art scene.
    A website was created, www.thegrangeprize.com, to feature the five
finalists' work, facilitate the voting process and foster a public dialogue on
contemporary photography. Since its launch, the site has received more than
17,000 unique global visitors. Johnson received 53 per cent of the 2,700 votes
that came in from around the world, including every Canadian province, China,
the United States, Greece, Germany, England, Turkey, India, Australia and
Japan.
    "I am honoured that my work has been recognized by the public and I'd
like to thank the Art Gallery of Ontario and Aeroplan for establishing an
award to not only recognize contemporary photography, but also to strengthen
the link between the Canadian and international art scenes," said Sarah Anne
Johnson.
    "The Grange Prize was conceived to provide assistance and prominence to
new and diverse voices working in contemporary photography," said Matthew
Teitelbaum, the AGO's Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO. "This prize
will communicate Sarah Anne Johnson's unique vision to a broad new audience."
    "Sarah Anne's work elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary, making her
the perfect inaugural candidate for the Grange Prize; a sentiment clearly
expressed by the overwhelming support of voters from around the globe," said
Rupert Duchesne, President and CEO of Aeroplan. "On behalf of Aeroplan, I am
pleased to congratulate her on this outstanding achievement."

    The Globe and Mail is the exclusive Media Sponsor of The Grange Prize and
played an integral role in the development of the website.

    About Sarah Anne Johnson

    Born in 1976 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Johnson received her BFA from the
University of Manitoba in 2002, and went on to complete her MFA at Yale School
of Art in 2004. Her work has been exhibited in a number of solo and group
exhibitions in Canada and the United States, and she is the recipient of
numerous scholarships and awards. Her first solo show in New York City opened
in February of 2005 and garnered excellent reviews from The New York Times,
The Village Voice, and Art Forum magazine. She currently resides in Winnipeg.

    About Aeroplan

    Aeroplan Limited Partnership, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aeroplan
Income Fund, is dedicated to developing and executing programs designed to
engage the loyalty of its prestigious membership. Aeroplan's millions of
members earn Aeroplan Miles with its growing network of over 70 world-class
partners, representing more than 150 brands in the financial, retail, and
travel sectors.
    Aeroplan is committed to working with its employees, partners and members
to support communities and sponsor events inspired by the interests of its
members. Aeroplan supports the arts locally, and on the world stage,
recognizing the valuable contribution artists make to our communities. The
partnership between Aeroplan and the AGO is a unique collaboration of two
organizations dedicated to advancing art and culture.

    For more information about Aeroplan, please visit www.aeroplan.com.

    About the Art Gallery of Ontario

    With a permanent collection of more than 68,000 works of art, the Art
Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North
America. In 2002, the Gallery began an extraordinary chapter in its 108-year
history when it launched Transformation AGO. Multi-faceted in scope,
Transformation AGO involves the unprecedented growth of the permanent
collection, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect
Frank Gehry, and the strengthening of the museum's endowment resources. As the
imaginative centre of the city, the transformed AGO will dramatically enrich
our visitors' experiences and provide new access to the full vibrancy of the
art museum. Boldly declaring that art matters, the new AGO will reopen fully
in fall 2008.
    The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of
Culture. Additional operating support is received from the Volunteers of the
AGO, the City of Toronto, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Canada
Council for the Arts.

    For more information about the AGO, please visit www.ago.net.


    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/



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