By Emily Senger
What do you get when you take a head of lettuce and cover it with layer upon layer of gesso (acrylic paint)?
You get a “Thick Painting,” a highly unique artistic expression created by University of Calgary art professor Eric Cameron, who will receive a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for his contribution to the Canadian art community over the past 40 years.
Some of Cameron’s work covers everyday objects in layers and layers of acrylic paint.
“I didn’t think I had any chance [to win a Governor General’s Award],” said a modest Cameron. “It did come as quite a big surprise. Any of my colleagues in the art department would have been worthy of the award. “
Cameron said he almost forgot about his nomination and was certain he would not win before being pleasantly surprised by the news he would be one of the seven 2004 Governor General’s Award laureates.
“I was feeling sorry that my colleagues had wasted so much time [with the application process],” said Cameron.
The Governor General’s Award, the highest honour recognizing an artist within Canada, will be presented to Cameron Wed., Mar. 10 in Ottawa by the Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson. The award, presented annually to seven artists, includes a monetary award of $15,000. An exhibit of the laureates’ works will also be show- cased in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa from Mar. 12 to May 1.
“After receiving the award I have to speak for two minutes,” said Cameron. “I’ve been rehearsing since November.”
Ever gracious, Cameron was not about to take all of the credit for his accomplishments.
“One of the things that has been the nicest of all is how pleased my students and the people at the Nickle Arts Museum are,” said Cameron. “The people at the Nickle have been absolutely marvelous. I owe such a tremendous amount to them.”
Cameron has been exhibiting his work since the 1950s. He has been a professor at the U of C since 1987 and was the head of the Art Department from 1987-1997. In addition to his well know “Thick Paintings,” Cameron has also published extensive literary works on art theory and history.
At 68 years of age, Cameron shows no signs of slowing and says he couldn’t imagine a life in retirement without his students.