Student from Oakville wins prestigious photography scholarship

Alison Postma was awarded $7,000

Leather Knapsack
Student from Oakville wins prestigious photography scholarship

Out of over 100 applicants from 15 universities across Canada, Oakville native Alison Postma, 20, is one of three winners of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Scholarship Program.

Postma now has $7,000 less to pay off when she finishes her undergraduate in Studio Arts at the University of Guelph next year.

The talented photography student, who applied for the scholarship back in March, found out she was one of the winners at the beginning of May.

“It feels great, I know it’s a really prestigious award to win,” Postma said, adding that it was all a little overwhelming.

Postma also finds joy in the fact that such a substantial scholarship opportunity is available.

“I’m also really happy an award that big in the fine art exists,” said Postma. “A lot of times looking for scholarships in studio arts is $200 or something. Everyone wants sports and community involvement, so its nice have that and be recognized.”

Photograph by Alison Postma

Photograph by Alison Postma

With one year left of studying, Postma says that she’s still thinking about what she wants to do after she graduates.

“It’s hard because there’s not a direct career path in the arts,” she said. “Ultimately, I would love to be a practicing artist doing what I do, but I also realize that’s not completely practical, so I’m considering doing my masters. Being a professor would be great.”

Postma’s current work concentrates around the idea of dreams, and the spaces you experience within them. You can view her work on her website by clicking here.

Photograph by Alison Postma of Oakville, Ontario.

Photograph by Alison Postma of Oakville, Ontario.


As for future scholarship applicants, she has a few words of advice:

“It seems that what they’re looking for is people who are really doing their own thing. Find something that you like doing and really go with it, and don’t worry to much about what other people are doing,” she said.

The scholarship, which was started in 2013, is an expansion of the original Aimia | AGO Photography Prize, which officially started in 2008 and now boasts a grand prize of $50,000.

The winners are chosen through a process: first, the 15 participating schools create an internal jury made of faculty members to select a finalist from their students, who must be full-time and in their final year of study. Then, out of these finalists, three winners are picked by the Scholarship Program jury.

The jurors for this years scholarship award were Adelina Vlas, the associate curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gabrielle Moser, a writer, educator and independent curator, and Lisa Oppenheim, winner of the 2014 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize.

The jury picked winners for “taking on the conventions of various photographic approaches.”

The other two winners were Lodoe Laura of Ryerson University, and Graham Wiebe from the University of Manitoba.

Along with the scholarship money, each winner’s school receives an honorarium of $1000.

Each scholarship recipient is also invited to attend a reception in December that celebrates their success, along with an invitation to attend the award gala for the international competition. They can also bring along one member of their program’s faculty to join them.

The chance to attend the award gala is a wonderful opportunity for the soon-to-be graduates, as many renowned figures in the art industry will be attending.

“During the big gala, we have both business leaders and the types of leaders that support the arts,” said Alden Hadwen, director of community engagement at Aimia. “Theres an exposure to how those people would talk with them, and meet with them, and discuss their practice.”

“One of the things that we’ll be trying to do is make sure that we introduce our scholarship winners, both from the microphone as we are speaking to the audience at large, but also just in mingling.”

Hadwen, who has been involved with both the international prize and the scholarship since they began, says that the idea of a scholarship that covers the final year of tuition for students “just seemed perfect.”

“As you get to that fourth year, you really want to be able to concentrate on the work you’re doing,  but you probably also have to get very involved with getting a summer job and thinking about how you’re going to finance that final year.”

“We’re really hoping that the people who win this scholarship will carry on with this work, and bring some sort of new ideas and fresh air to the whole practice of photography in Canada.”

Hadwen says that of the applicants, there are “always some students that just stand out, it’s fresh and it’s interesting.”

Along with their photo submissions, scholarship applicants are also required to submit a statement about their work.

“The jury also pays a lot of attention to that. What it is that they are working on and trying to do.”

If you would like to read more about the scholarship and the winners, you can visit the official site here.



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