Georgian College Fine Arts alumna Aylan Couchie has won the International Sculpture Center’s (ISC) Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award for 2015. This is no small accomplishment, considering more than 952 works were submitted and the jury selected only 18 pieces from 423 student nominees.
Couchie knew being named a winner would be a long shot- considering the sheer number of entries – and she was fully expecting to receive a rejection letter. She was shocked to read she had been selected for her installation work, titled Sweat Lodge.
Winning the award means Couchie will be included in the “Grounds for Sculpture Fall/Winter Exhibition” October 2015 to March 2016 in Hamilton, NJ. She and her sculpture will also be featured in the October 2015 issue of Sculpture magazine.
In addition, she has been offered an opportunity to participate in a travelling exhibition and to apply for an ISC Residency in Switzerland with full sponsorship.
“I haven’t even begun to explore the possibilities and opportunities that this creates for me. To be sure, a six-month exhibition in New Jersey gets my work out of Canada and in front of a whole new audience that would have previously been inaccessible. The feature in the magazine, that’s an international audience. Who knows what will come of it, time will tell,” she said.
Georgian College fine arts professor Amy Switzer nominated Couchie for the award. Sweat Lodge is an interactive installation that explores the contrast between Western-based healing and Indigenous methods of healing. Couchie created it in 2013 as a project for her sculpture class and has carried it with her throughout five household moves.
“This sculpture has only ever been shown once, for two to three hours, on the day of our critique when I handed it in. I’ve always been disappointed that it has never been formally exhibited, but I still carried it with me. I’m absolutely delighted that now it will not only be exhibited, but, exhibited for half a year in another country,” she said.
Couchie is quick to credit Georgian faculty and studio technicians for contributing to her achievement.
“They are top notch, caring and accessible – amazing artists in their own professional practices,” she said.