Cover Art Contest 2021: The Winners

The results are in. Major congrats to the three winners of our 2021 Cover Art Contest!

FIRST PLACE: Nimisenh mizhishawabi, by Sarah McPherson

Raised in Thunder Bay, Sarah McPherson is a 2S Anishinaabe youth from Couchiching First Nation, currently completing an MA at Lakehead University. She uses experimental photography to explore language and relationships with nature. Her work has been exhibited at Co.Lab Gallery and Definitely Superior Art Gallery. Sarah has taught workshops, managed grants through OAC and YOF, and worked with numerous collectives, including Fortify This, Neechee Studio, Nefarious Film, and the Solidarity Collective. Find her on Instagram or Twitter @sarmcpherson.

“This piece effectively communicates the complexities of Indigenous relationships to the land. I imagine that the figure seated on the rocks is seeking connection to their homelands, but the lingering knowledge of environmental damage (in addition to varying levels of disconnection, which is a result of ongoing colonial violence) is ever present. The eerie green splashes surrounding the figure and the land are reminiscent of work by Bonnie Devine that addresses the devastating impact of the Elliot Lake uranium mines on the bodies and lands of the Anishinaabek of Serpent River. The imagery presented here is not only symbolic of a desire to connect, but it also uncovers narratives of settler-colonialism and proposes that the viewer understands interconnectedness as an inherent truth and a radical response to settler-colonialism.” Judge Chief Lady Bird


SECOND PLACE: 莫(Mò), by Kyla Yin

Kyla Yin James (they/she) is an illustrator and designer whose work is inspired by the unconscious, subcultures, sociopolitical systems, and the mythologies they grew up with. Their work is filled with symbolism that creates surreal and speculative scenes questioning the status quo. Through their work, Kyla dissects and reassembles how they approach the different thought worlds they grew up in. Kyla describes their practice as thinking and feeling out loud, sorting through the symbols and ideas they’ve encountered.

“To me, this piece speaks to the idea of societal “Togetherness” and the somewhat impossibility and complexity of it. There are undertones of sacredness, with figures guarding it. And it feels like the artist is stating that to build togetherness, there must be cross-cultural respect; and perhaps togetherness doesn’t mean “sameness” (Or, they are saying do not assume sameness). The colour palette draws the viewer into a dreamscape that seems to beckon us to ask ourselves where we see ourselves in this circle of prayers and energy.” Judge Chief Lady Bird


THIRD PLACE: It’s Complicated, by Laura Silva

Laura D. Silva is a Colombian first-year art student at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design who came to Canada in 2021 in her pursuit of a career in art and craft. A mostly self-taught digital illustrator with a passion for realistic and expressionist portraits, she considers herself to be on a journey of creative self-discovery and looks forward to continuing to expand her practice through learning and experimentation.

“This piece effectively communicates a struggle that is so familiar to many; attempting to find self love and acceptance in a society that teaches us scarcity- feelings of not being enough, and not having enough.” Judge Chief Lady Bird 


The First Place winner will be featured on the cover of our next issue, 45.2! You can see Kyla and Laura’s stunning pieces published on our website within the coming week. We are immensely grateful to everyone who shared their art with us and our judge – we know it is a vulnerable experience to submit your work to a contest, and we appreciate every single person who has taken the time to send us their pieces.

A special thank-you goes out to our wonderful judge, Chief Lady Bird, for taking time from her own busy life to consider all submissions and ultimately select our winners, and our 45.2 cover art with such care. Our 2022 Cover Art Contest will open on November 15th of this year. Our Creative Non-Fiction Contest is open now, until June 15th.

The featured image on this post the winning images from the contest – left: Nimisenh mizhishawabi, centre: 莫(Mò), right: It’s Complicated.

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