Posted November 22nd, 2021

Arts Nova Scotia and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council congratulate four emerging artists who have been selected to receive Emerging Artist Recognition Awards in 2021. Carrie Allison, Dawn Shepherd, francesca ekwuyasi, and India Gailey were selected by a committee of their peers for their excellence in artistic achievement, momentum for the future and professional recognition in Nova Scotia and beyond.

2021 Emerging Artist Recognition Award Recipients 

Carrie Allison

Carrie Allison

Carrie Allison is a nêhiýaw/cree, Métis, and mixed European descent multidisciplinary visual artist based in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She grew up on the unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam) Nations. Her maternal roots and relations are based in maskotewisipiy (High Prairie, Alberta), Treaty 8. Carrie’s practice responds to her maternal nêhiýaw/Cree and Métis ancestry, thinking through intergenerational cultural loss and acts of reclaiming, resilience, resistance, and activism, while also thinking through notions of allyship, kinship and visiting. Her practice is rooted in research and pedagogical discourses. Allison's work seeks to reclaim, remember, recreate and celebrate her ancestry through visual discussions often utilizing beading, embroidery, handmade paper, watercolour, websites, QR codes, audio, video and most recently animation. Old and new technologies are combined to tell stories of the land, continuance, growth, and of healing. Allison holds a Master in Fine Art, a Bachelor in Art History, and a Bachelor in Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Allison was the 2020 recipient of the Melissa Levin Award from the Textile Museum of Canada and was long listed for the 2021 Sobey Art Award. Her work has been shown in Canadian Art, Elle Quebec, Esse and Visual Arts News.


IG: @carrieallisonart

Carrie Allison art
LEFT: First Family (Rose), 2020 ​​​​​​RIGHT: Red River, 2020


Dawn Shepherd

Dawn Shepherd

Dawn Shepherd is a contemporary circus artist, director, trainer and rigger who received her circus arts education primarily through the National Circus School of Montreal (NCS), where she worked as an elite circus trainer from 2009-2013. In 2014, Dawn returned to NS to explore directing by starting small and creating her own shows. Since 2014, Dawn and long-time partner, Ryan Gray, have performed in and produced 5 feature-length contemporary circus shows (i.e. TU Processed, Nascent, Rogue, Breaking Valentines and That Which Lights Your Way: Reflection) and in October 2021 they shared their latest production, “Skywhispers of Terrestrial Dreams” as a work-in-progress at Nocturne Festival. Dawn is both dancer and co-producer on the Rebecca Lazier/Janet Echelman National Creation Fund project, “Everywhere the Edges” with Co-producer Mocean Dance and commissioning presenter, Live Art Dance.

In 2020, Dawn co-directed her first documentary, “Artist in the Black” and her first “circus on film” piece, “Dualing Roots”. The films have screened at the Mosaic Film Festival of Arts and Culture 2020, the Huntington Beach Cultural Cinema Showcase 2021, the Montreal Independent Film Festival 2021 and the NAFCo Winter Film Festival 2021. For her film “Dualing Roots”, Dawn was awarded “Best Stage Performance” at the NAFCo Winter Film Festival 2021 and the “Inspirational Griot Award at the Emerging Lens Film Festival 2021. Dawn is one of a few professional circus artists of African descent in NS. She is actively working to increase representation within the arts by mentoring emerging artists from underrepresented groups (i.e. IBPOC).

Dawn Sheppard art
LEFT: Breaking Circus Collective (not all members present), 2021, photo by Jenna Harvie RIGHT: Everywhere the Edges, photo by Kevin MacCormack


franscesca ekwuyasi

francesca ekwuyasi

francesca ekwuyasi is a writer and multidisciplinary artist from Lagos, Nigeria. Her work explores themes of faith, family, queerness, consumption, loneliness, and belonging.

francesca's debut novel, Butter Honey Pig Bread was longlisted for the 2020 Giller Prize, a finalist for CBC's 2021 Canada Reads competition, the 2021 Lambda Literary Award, the 2021 Governor General's Award, the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award, and the 2021 ReLit Award.


francesca ekwuyasi art
LEFT: Scene from lacuna, ​​​​​​NOCTURNE Beacon Project 2021 RIGHT: Cover of Butter Honey Pig Bread


India GaileyIndia Gailey 

India Gailey (she/they) is a musician—cellist, composer, vocalist, and improviser––who crosses many eras and genres, most often performing the realms of classical and experimental music. Pinned as a “young musician to watch” (Scotia Festival), she has performed across Canada, the United States, and Germany as a soloist and collaborator. She has worked with numerous contemporary composers, including Yaz Lancaster, Philip Glass, Nicole Lizée, and Michael Harrison. India is the recipient of several honours, including awards from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, the Canada Council for the Arts, and McGill University, where she earned her Master of Music in cello performance. Her most recent work has been presented by organizations such as the Canadian Music Centre, International Contemporary Ensemble, Metropolis Ensemble, and Government House of Nova Scotia. India is also member of the environmental quartet New Hermitage, which recently released their fifth album, Unearth, to critical acclaim. 2022 will bring the release of a new solo cello album, as well as a series of commissioned works written especially for India by Canadian composers.

About the Award

The Emerging Artist Recognition Award recognizes artists of any age who are in the early stages of their professional career, have completed specialized training, and have presented their work publicly. Age is not a determining factor. 

The awards help showcase the recipients’ work to residents of the province and to people beyond our borders. This visibility will encourage artistic and economic well-being for the recipients and contribute to the health of Nova Scotia’s artistic sector in support of a well-rounded community. 

The Artist Recognition Awards are presented annually by Arts Nova Scotia and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council and are funded through the Nova Scotia Arts Endowment Fund. Each award carries a cash value of $5,000.

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