A stroke of genius: TWU artist Erica Grimm-Vance wins national competition

Langley, B.C.— “Only Say the Word,” is the title of the painting that won TWU Art professor Erica Grimm-Vance this year’s nationally adjudicated Imago visual arts competition. For many years, Grimm-Vance has used embodiment as her theme and wax and metal as her tools. This painting is no different. Using graphite, pastel and steel and contrasting dark and light, her intent was to create a resurrectional image without glossing over the pain of Good Friday.

Grimm-Vance took the title, “Only Say the Word”, from the Roman Eucharistic liturgy, which is completed by the phrase, “…and we shall be healed.” Eight-hundred paintings from 300 exceptional Canadian artists were submitted, however when it came time to choose, Imago judges were most impressed by Grimm-Vance’s ability and creativity, awarding her first place—and $10,000.

Grimm-Vance, however, feels that many of the finalists would have been well-deserving of the award. “I was honoured to receive the award, especially since I hold some of the other artists in such high regard,” she says.

“The existence of the award is an incredible encouragement to all artists,” continues Grimm-Vance of the first-time event, generously sponsored by an anonymous donor. “This award affirms that an artist’s often solitary work is valuable to society and culture. Giftedness is given not for the individual, but for the good of the whole community and therefore needs to be pursued.”

And Grimm-Vance’s giftedness has been thoroughly recognized this month. So well recognized, in fact, that she was honoured at two prestigious events on the same night— first at the University of Regina to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Professional Achievement and then at the Glen Gould studio in Toronto, to celebrate the announcement of her first-place Imago award. This isn’t the first time Grimm-Vance has been notably recognized; her paintings grace art collections worldwide, including the Vatican in Italy.

Grimm-Vance recognizes the need to pass her passion for art on to her TWU students. One of the tasks of an artist is to generate images that remind us who we are. The prophetic voice and the healing voice are equally important. Information is disseminated visually in our culture which makes it a critical area not only to understand, but to be training potential leaders in.”

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Imago is a charitable organization, whose mandate is to celebrate the work of Christians in visual arts. Dedicated to the interaction between the arts, faith and culture, this organization was founded by Wilbur Sutherland and is now directed by John Franklin. Contest curators were Sarah Dobbs of the Visual Arts Burnaby/Gallery at Ceperley House; Robert Young, artist and former UBC Fine Arts professor; and Calvin Seerveld of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto.

Canadians can view Grimm-Vance’s painting, along with those of the other finalists, at the Painted City Gallery in Toronto this month. The show will then be shipped to Regent College where it can be viewed from January 15 to February 5, 2003.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,200 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 35 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping