Winter Festival Art Show Best in Show winner Friesen surprised by win

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Carrot River’s Marcy Friesen poses with her piece “Come Eat’ after winning the Prince Albert Winter Festival Art Show and Sale Best in Show on Friday evening.

An interesting mixed medium piece called “Come Eat’’ took home top prize at the Winter Festival Art Show and Sale Awards and opening on Friday, Feb. 9.

Marcy Friesen’s work was the first piece she entered in a Winter Festival exhibit. The Carrot River-based artist was shocked to see her KFC bucket adorned in fur and beading take the top prize at the 48th edition.

“I was against a lot of people who have been creating art for years and years and I just wasn’t expecting it, “Friesen said.

Friesen said that the talent pool of artists was deep.

“I really can’t believe it yet,” she said.

All award winners were invited to attend Friday’s show. The Best in Show Award was the last one presented, and after waiting through so many presentations, Friesen through they might have forgotten her or made a mistake.

Everyone who was getting a prize was informed they were to attend. Friesen had to wait through all the other awards as the Best in Show award was the last one. She said that during the wait she thought they might have forgotten her or there was a mistake.

“Then all of a sudden they said the third place finisher and I didn’t know what awards were given. They don’t tell you,” Friesen said.

Friesen’s art often shines a light on racism or mental health struggles. “Come Eat” touches on those topics, Friesen said, but the goal was to focus on more positive experiences.

“The past few years I’ve dealt with kind of deeper darker topics from my past, racism that I’ve experienced, so I thought, this year I want to focus on some brighter pieces, some easier pieces for me to talk to with people about,” Friesen said.

“It touches on racism, but it’s also so celebratory, KFC, I mean,” Friesen said.

Friesen also runs a business called Trapline Creations and works with hides. She is based just outside of Carrot River. She’s worked in Prince Albert for three years now as an artist in the community. She is also involved in several workshops.

Friesen said she does not keep track of how long a piece of art takes to produce, only where it is going. For “Come Eat”, that next stop is Montreal.

“This show is going to exhibition in Montreal. It’s going to be in the BACA exhibition in spring, so I just thought ‘I will enter it here because it’s here for a short period (and) I’ll have it in Montreal in time for that show.’”

Friesen said she became an artist in 2019 and worked with her beading mentor, the influential artist Ruth Cuthand.

“Then I started, COVID hit and I got caught up on all my orders for my Trapline Creations business. I also visited the Remai Modern for the very first time,” Friesen said.

The visit to the Remai Modern Art Gallery was influential for her.

“I visited an art gallery and I was like, ‘what the heck is this?’ like art to me was useless. I didn’t have an understanding of its purpose, and then in my next breath, I was like, ‘I need to make art.’ It was ‘art is so useless. I don’t understand it.’ (Then), ‘I want to understand it and I want to make it.’

“I had to work through all these emotions and create pieces that were meaningful for me. What I found was I had to look into my past, so most of my works are created from stories from my past or my family members’ past,” Friesen explained.

Friesen began focusing on mental health because it’s something a few family members struggled with. She has also struggled with it in the past, and that experience inspired many of her creations.

“That’s how it started. I know mental health. I struggle with it (and) a lot of family members, so I can use art to help me with that, to help me heal and grow and learn,” she explained.

The piece “Come Eat” is made of rabbit fur, beading and a KFC bucket, according to Friesen.

The Best in Show award is sponsored by the City of Prince Albert and On the Avenue Artisan’s Gallery. The winner receives $200 and a pot by Mel Bolen.

Prince Albert’s Janaya McCallum took the $175 second place prize with the acrylic on canvas piece ‘Bow Down’, while Hilary Johnstone from La Ronge took third and $150 for ‘Morning Swim, Welcoming Sky’. The Guy Rutter Memorial People’s Choice Award winner will be announced after March 25.

“(I’m) so thankful to the Mann Art Gallery, the City of Prince Albert, SaskArts, the Winter Festival and all of these things that are going on that support local artists. That’s amazing,” Friesen said.

There were 133 artists who entered pieces in the 2024 exhibit. According to the Mann Art Gallery, 40 people attended the curator’s walk-through with guest curator Bevin Bradley on Saturday. The show runs until March 25.