Aylan Couchie
November 25, 2016

Close-up head shot of Design and Visual Arts alumna Aylan CouchieJust a year out of college, Art and Design Fundamentals and Fine Arts – Advanced alumna Aylan Couchie has built an impressive list of career achievements.

In August 2015, she was chosen from over 950 entries worldwide to receive the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the U.S.-based International Sculpture Center.

Less than a month later, she was honoured with the inaugural Native Women in the Arts Barbara Laronde Award, which celebrates the career of one outstanding, emerging Northern Ontario-based Indigenous female artist. Aylan’s artwork has also been featured in Sculpture magazine, an international publication that is distributed in more than 70 countries and has a readership of 37,000.

Aylan is also the winner of the Pratt Homes Sculpture competition that hand-selected four artists to design a sculpture to sit atop their new condominium in Barrie, as well as a rooftop patio piece and select works throughout the interior. Her work was chosen by the public against three seasoned and highly esteemed sculptors. Once built, the piece (H.I.O. Big Chiefs) will be seen from Highway 400 as it looks out over Kempenfelt Bay in tribute to the Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek nations.

Aylan has made an indelible impact on the community. In 2014, she organized and launched Barrie’s first downtown art crawl, which featured local artists, fostered new relationships within the downtown merchant core, and led to partnerships that continue today. She was also honoured with a 2016 Colleges Ontario Premier’s Award in the Recent Graduate category.

Aylan says that she is inspired by her grandfather, a residential school survivor whose passed-down teachings greatly influenced her work and encouraged her to return to college as a mature student and single mother of three teenage boys.

Despite the many accolades, Aylan feels the most important part of her work is being part of the larger conversation about First Nations realities, including murdered and missing Indigenous women, current actualities facing First Nations communities across Canada, and residential school legacies.