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U of M grads bring home top prizes

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Erika Dueck, a fine arts graduate from the University of Manitoba, won $10,000 in the BMO Financial Group’s 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition for her piece, The Ephemeral Mind.

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Erika Dueck, a fine arts graduate from the University of Manitoba, won $10,000 in the BMO Financial Group’s 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition for her piece, The Ephemeral Mind. Photo Store

How does the mind work? How does it remember things? Is it true that when we grow up, we forget most of our childhood?

These are the questions that haunted Erika Dueck, 28, as a child, but in the end it made her sculpture, The Ephemeral Mind, number one in the country and won her $10,000 in BMO Financial Group’s 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition.

"It’s pretty awesome," said Dueck. "Pretty exciting."

Dueck, who just graduated from the University of Manitoba with a bachelor of fine arts with honours, loved her childhood and she wanted to remember every single minute of it. To do that, she set aside time for "memory cleaning" days. As a result, she has memories from two years old.

"When I was a little girl I thought memory was like a filing system," said Dueck. "And if you didn’t go into your files often enough you could potentially forget where you put things, you could potentially forget an entire room full of memories."

The piece Dueck created as part of her sculpture class, and for the competition, portrays how she thinks the mind and memory work.

"The whole project is thinking about our minds and memories, how they are stored, and filed, and misplaced, degraded, lost within our lives," said Dueck. "Every room has a dark area and those are those areas that are right next to information you can access, but you’ve forgotten how to get there."

Dueck immediately said the cash she won will go to rent, but after some thought she mentioned it will help her as she starts her master’s in landscape architecture at the University of Guelph this fall.

"The great thing about this prize is that I get to set up my piece in the Museum of Contemporary (Canadian) Art in Toronto," said Dueck. "So it’s really fantastic because more people get to see it and enjoy it."

Hillary Smith, also a University of Manitoba fine arts graduate with honours this year, won the provincial award for the 1st Art! competition and walked away with $5,000.
Her sculpture, called Phrenological Petrifactions, is a tribute to the work of early medicine.

"I’m really interested in these old scientific methods of explaining the body and the creative processes that were around back then," said Smith. "My intent was to have these semi-humanoid pieces tell their own stories, and for them to have their own ailments and illnesses that these objects are going through."  

Smith said her winnings will also go to funding basic life needs and to pay for future, and past, art residences.

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