For additional examples, please see all biographies written for VIVA Award winners since 1988 on the Shadbolt Foundation website.


Bratsa Bonifacho

Bonifacho is a university-educated senior Canadian artist and painter who achieved a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Belgrade, Serbia. He subsequently pursued post-diploma studies in painting in Rome, Italy and old master printing techniques in Frankfurt, Germany. Bonifacho worked in France, Germany and Italy before emigrating to North America, where he established his permanent home and studio in Vancouver, Canada.

An internationally recognized artist, Bonifacho has a consistent presence in North American commercial galleries and non-profit galleries and museums. His work is in major corporate collections, museums and private collections internationaly. His work expresses a tremendous vitality and love of intense and emotionally-charged colour.

Bonifacho’s new series explores tensions between the logical, linear scripting of virus programs and their capacity for destruction. In the simplest terms, he imitates the effects of computer viruses and worms by scrambling letters and messages in his large-scale oil paintings. His work carries the elegance of programming code. It also indicates the deep layers of chaos and confusion caused by viruses.


Debra Sloan

Debra Sloan has an outstanding exhibition record and history of community service to artists and ceramicists. Born in Nelson, BC, Sloan graduated with honours in 1982 from the Three-Dimensional Program at the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, where she studied with Tam Irving and Sally Michener. In 1982 she designed and built a studio in Vancouver and began working full time as a potter and sculptor. In 1991, she established the clay sculpture program at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, where she continues to teach. From 2003-2005, she completed critical studies courses at ECIAD and sciences courses at UBC to earn her BFA.

Sloan has been a board member of the Northwest Ceramic Foundation, the Potters’ Guild of BC, the West Coast Clay Sculpture Association, Circle Craft Co-Op and the Crafts Association of BC. She is the contributing editor of the upcoming book by Glen Lewis, SEEKING THE NUANCE (Phyllis Schwartz, editor). The book catalogues glazes chosen and developed by the UBC Fine Arts and Education Departments during the 1970s. Sloan has explored the practice of using local materials by digging and processing local clay from Haney, BC; developing an earthenware clay-body; and a line of slipware pottery. She has also developed an extensive line of sigalatta clays for rich colour and surface effects.

Debra Sloan is a recognized speaker and presenter, and a prominent adjudicator for ceramic exhibitions. Since 1983 she has had extensive teaching experience in art courses, workshops and symposiums. In 1993, a group of clay sculptors she trained at the Shadbolt Centre formed the West Coast Clay Sculpture Association.

Sloan’s work has been featured in traveling exhibitions around BC, across Canada, and in Japan. She has had five solo exhibitions and participated in more than 40 juried, invitational and group exhibits worldwide. In 2008 her work was showcased at the International Triennial of the Silicate Arts, Hungary. Important pieces have been collected by the International Ceramic Studio, Hungary; the UBC University Library; City of Port Moody; and City of Coquitlam. She is represented by three galleries in Vancouver, BC: Crafthouse Gallery, Gallery of BC Ceramics, and Circle Craft Co-op, and the Gallery Gae Shulman, San Francisco.

Currently, Sloan is on the Board of the North-West Ceramic Foundation, the charitable arm of the Potters Guild of BC. She has helped set up their website and is chairing their 2009 fundraiser, From Oven and Kiln Auction/Dinner. She has taken on the long-term task of collecting materials for an archive of BC Ceramics for the Potters Guild of BC, and is collecting chop-marks and signatures of BC ceramicists. She was invited to write an extensive article “Dogged Process” [2008, Volume #27, 6 pages with 7 images] for TECHNICAL, an international ceramic magazine. In January 2010, Sloan will undertake a prestigious three-month residency at the International Ceramic Studio, Kecskemet, Hungary.


Presented by the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts in British Columbia

Gordon Smith
Gordon Smith is an esteemed painter and printmaker who has gained international renown for his abstracted images of the Canadian landscape. For more than fifty years, he has explored the mediums of drawing, painting and printmaking in inventive and expressive ways. His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Vancouver Museum. He has been granted many prizes and awards, including honorary doctorates from Simon Fraser University, Emily Carr College of Art and Design and the University of British Columbia. He received the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Allied Arts Medal in 1980. In 1996 Smith was awarded the Order of Canada.

Smith was praised by Canadian legend Lawren Harris as “a consummate artist of very considerable power”. His paintings are noted for their strong sense of atmosphere, colour and light. Smith is constantly inspired by the challenge of finding a balance between pure abstraction and depicting the
British Columbia wilderness. His work reflects his attachment to the physical and emotional act of painting, and his affection for the land. The last 18 years of Smith’s career as an artist have been his most prolific and have seen him produce some of his finest prints and paintings. A master of colour and paint, he explores the British Columbian landscape in a fresh, expressive and aggressive style that is unparalleled by other artists. Never satisfied, he continues to express new visions daily.

Smith was born in 1919 in Sussex, England. In 1937 Smith enrolled at the Winnipeg School of Art and in 1940 moved to Vancouver, where he joined the army. He returned from the war in 1944 and attended the Vancouver School of Art. After his graduation in 1946, he accepted a position on faculty and taught for the next 10 years. In 1956, Smith joined the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia and taught there until his retirement in 1982. He won recognition for his art in 1955 when the
National Gallery of Canada awarded him first prize in the very first Biennial of Canadian Painting. In 1960 he was chosen to represent Canada at the Sao Paulo Bienal. For the past 17 years, Smith has energetically guided the growth of The Artists for Kids Trust, a unique program that brings artists into classrooms in North Vancouver, provides master classes and programs for children, and provides scholarships to secondary students. He is represented by Equinox Gallery, Vancouver.


Angela Grossmann

While still a student at Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1985, Angela Grossmann was introduced as one of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s “Young Romantic” painters most likely to influence the course of painting in that decade.

Over the past 20 years, Grossmann has continued to be a significant force in the Canadian art world. In June 2006, she was included in a list of 100 artists who have most influenced students at eleven leading British art schools, including the Royal Academy, Slade and Royal College of Art.

Grossmann has devoted much of her career to examining themes of displacement and social margins through the use of collaged and transferred discarded materials. In an early series titled Affaires d’Enfants (1987), she painted on the insides of suitcases abandoned by an agency in Paris that once sponsored summer camp holidays for orphans. In 1991, she created (Sign)ifying the END of the (Second) 2nd World War using photographs of unknown European children found in second-hand shops.

Grossmann based her 1994 exhibition Scapegoats on mug shots taken of prisoners in the British Columbia Penitentiary during the 1940s. In a strange world hovering between fantasy and reality, she forced viewers to face the human side of criminals. Her 1999 exhibition, My Vocation, presented the human figure graphically sketched and enlarged. The images emerged through ephemeral layers of letters, photographs, addresses, envelopes, postage and cancellation marks.

In recent work, Grossmann emphasizes coming-of-age themes. Alpha Girls (2004), a forceful narrative series, resonated with the emotional world of young teen girls. Paper Dolls continued the themes of social status, fashion and identity among the “paper dolls” of 2006. Also in 2006, she joined forces once more with Douglas Coupland, Graham Gillmore, Attila Richard Lukacs and Derek Root to create a massive sculptural installation entitled Vancouver School.

The Diane Farris Gallery has represented Angela Grossmann in twelve solo shows and numerous group exhibits. After earning an MFA at Concordia University and teaching at Ottawa University, Grossmann returned to Vancouver in 1996 to paint and to teach at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Her work has been exhibited widely across Canada, the United States and Europe.