Oshawa honours its Culture Counts award winners

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Published June 22, 2022 at 9:02 am

Bolu Adefemi

An artist, writer and curator with a career spanning three decades; a singer/songwriter and international youth ambassador; and the Oshawa Museum are the 2022 Culture Counts award winners in the City of Oshawa.

Launched in November 2017, the program’s goal is to celebrate and honour the creative and cultural achievements of the community. The Professional Artist, Emerging Artist and Innovation and Creation Champion Awards were formally presented by Oshawa City Council to winners at the June 20 Council meeting.


The Oshawa Culture Counts Professional Artist Award recipient is Oshawa artist Margaret Rodgers. The award recognizes an established artist of any arts discipline who has demonstrated creativity, originality, professional maturity and artistic leadership in the community.

Rodgers has been a leader in the contemporary art community of Durham Region since the 1990s. She is an artist, writer and curator, a founder of the IRIS Group, taught at Durham and Centennial Colleges, and was Director/Curator at Visual Arts Centre of Clarington.

Margaret Rodgers

In 2014, Rodgers had an exhibit at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG), Close Ups, which featured photographs from the Thomas Bouckley Collection. Her latest body of work Crosswords, in 2021, explores feminist theory and socio-political issues. Her artwork has been exhibited in various galleries and can be found in public and private collections.

Since, 1996 IRIS, a collective of women artists living in Durham Region has been a forum to share ideas, offer mutual support, and develop community outreach projects dedicated to women’s causes. In 2014, IRIS was the recipient of a City of Oshawa ArtsVests grant program to create links between business and art organizations. In 2015, Rodgers and fellow IRIS members developed a community garden project with YWCA residents in Oshawa.

As a curator at the RMG and Visual Arts Centre of Clarington Rodgers brought contemporary exhibitions to the community and as a published author, she has written various books and articles for visual art journals, including the book Locating Alexandra about Painters Eleven artists and Oshawa resident Alexandra Luke.

Singer/Songwriter Bolu Adefemi received the Oshawa Culture Counts Emerging Artist Award, which recognizes emerging artists between the ages of 12 to 20 who are in the early stages of their career. The award encompasses all arts disciplines recognizing those that are skilled and determined to advance their artistic capabilities and leverage these skills to inspire and enrich the lives of fellow citizens.

Adefemi is a 15 year-old Canadian singer/songwriter based in Oshawa who emerged as an important new artist with her internationally acclaimed song ‘Make It Right,’ a powerful call to action about social injustices. Shortly after performing her song publicly for the first time Adefemi was performing it for media nationwide and around the world.

This impactful young woman is already a world changer and continues to use her voice, determination and many talents to make positive impacts on the world. Adefemi was honoured with the Universal Women’s Network Youth award and became their 2020 Youth Ambassador. Also, in 2020, she received the Zimbabwe Young Achievers Award.

The third award recognizes the Oshawa Museum with the Innovation and Creation Champion Award. The award honors individuals, collectives and/or organizations in the creative and cultural industries who have created or enhanced an event, product, program or partnership in the past year.

Oshawa Museum – Guy House

For more than 60 years the Oshawa Museum has celebrated the history of Oshawa with events, exhibitions, and an immense collection of archival materials. Nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario in beautiful Lakeview Park, the museum shares the story of Oshawa from Indigenous inhabitants to present day.

The Oshawa Museum is managed by the Oshawa Historical Society and strives to tell a more inclusive history of the community, one that includes people, places, and events that have not been included in previous local histories.

In the fall of 2021, the museum developed a video project, highlighting the rich Hanukkah celebrations as told by members of Oshawa’s Jewish community. They partnered with Empty Cup Media, an award winning Oshawa based film company to film and produce a microdocumentary: Traditions & Celebrations: The Story of Oshawa’s Jewish Community.

The research used in this project will be included in a new book on local history that the staff of the museum are currently researching and writing. The book is expected in 2024.

To learn more about the Oshawa Culture Counts Awards, visit www.oshawa.ca/culturecountsawards.

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