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Corner Brook artist Lauren Brinson’s tin can phone piece translates into an award

Corner Brook’s Lauren Brinson has won the Newfoundland and Labrador regional prize in the BMA 1st Art competition and will have her work on display in Toronto later this fall.
Corner Brook’s Lauren Brinson has won the Newfoundland and Labrador regional prize in the BMA 1st Art competition and will have her work on display in Toronto later this fall.

Lauren Brinson knew she had a good shot at winning, but to get the nod for a prize chosen from among her classmates is an absolute thrill.

The Corner Brook native was one of about a dozen students from the graduating visual arts class at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University eligible for the regional prize in the national BMO 1st Art competition.

The annual competition hands out a national prize and one regional prize per province and territory, but one has to be in the final year of a visual arts program to be eligible. So, as the only visual arts school in Newfoundland and Labrador, only the graduating class at Grenfell could enter in this province.

For that reason, it has become a well-known award at the school.

Not only did Brinson win a $7,500 cash prize, but will also have her work exhibited with other winning pieces at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto from Nov. 16 to Dec. 16.

She will be among the country’s emerging artistic talents attending the show’s opening in Toronto in November.

“It’s a huge honour to be representing Newfoundland and Labrador,” she said. “It’s such a specific group of people who won – recent grads from post-secondary art institutions, so I’m very excited to meet a brand new group of peers at the reception.”

Brinson’s piece, titled “Small Talk,” is essentially a huge tin can phone made from two large cans she had specially made for the piece, attached by a long cotton string.

In her final year of school, she was exploring communication and social interaction and had been working on a series of smaller cans attached to microphone stands and manipulating the strings strung between them.

“I was trying to find a good visual way to convey the complications or complexities of social interaction and figured tin cans would be very recognizable and easy to manipulate,” she said.

The bigger cans, which measure 18 inches deep by 12 inches in diameter, will be functional while on display in Toronto, so observers will be able to interact and use them.

The cans are big enough to cover the user’s field of vision, eliminating distractions and the need to move the can from the mouth to the ear when communicating.

In her artistic statement for “Small Talk,” Brinson explained she is evoking elements of play and nostalgia for a basic childhood toy to draw attention to the simplicities and complexities of human interaction.

It relies on two people being physically present and physically connected in order to communicate, which is a concept we, as a society, have been consciously trying to circumvent,” said Brinson, who is hoping to pursue a masters degree in studio art next year.

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