Internationally recognized writer and artist named as this year's Distinguished Artists

(Edmonton) Two members of the University of Alberta community have been named recipients of this year’s Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Awards.

Robert Kroetsch, a U of A alumnus and honorary degree recipient, and Jane Ash Poitras, also an alumna as well as sessional instructor at the university, will be presented with the awards in St. Albert’s new Enjoy Centre, as part of the city’s 150th anniversary celebrations on April 9.

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Awards celebrate excellence in and underlines the importance of the arts in Alberta. The awards recognize individual Albertans for outstanding achievement in the arts or for significant contribution to the arts in Alberta.

Poitras, who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in printmaking, as well as a degree in microbiology from the U of A, is an internationally acclaimed visual artist whose work has been showcased in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world. She is a long-standing sessional instructor with the U of A’s Faculty of Native Studies and a highly sought-after guest lecturer across North America.

As a child, she was told she’d never make a living at an artist and pursued her science degree. But, while working as a clinical and industrial microbiologist, Poitras continued to work at her art in her spare time, taking evening courses at the U of A and was persuaded by her instructor to present a portfolio of her work to the U of A’s Department of Art and Design.

“I am thrilled to receive this award, and humbled to be in the company of the other recipients who are so accomplished. I’ve travelled to the four corners of the planet, but I’m always excited to come back to Alberta to my family, my people … and my dogs,” said Poitras.

Robert Kroetsch, renowned poet, novelist, essayist and teacher, is one of Canada's most accomplished authors. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from the U of A in 1948 and published his first novel, But We Are Exiles, in 1965. With a career spanning 40 years, Kroetsch has received numerous honours, including the prestigious Governor General's Literary Award for his book The Studhorse Man. He has penned nine internationally acclaimed novels, 12 books of poetry and five books of non-fiction, essays and exploration.

“I spent many years travelling around the world, but I never left Alberta,” said Kroetsch. “It has always been a country of my imagination. I love the stories, the landscape and the people.”

Kroetsch and Poitras join other distinguished previous winners, U of A faculty Rudy Wiebe and Greg Hollingshead, in receiving the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Awards.