Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse, professors in the College of Arts better known as FASTWÜRMS, have been honoured with a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

The cultural project, trademark and shared authorship of FASTWÜRMS began in 1979. Together they create interdisciplinary works of art mixing performance and performative events into the context of immersive installations, collective making and social exchange projects – all with a DIY sensibility that reflects their Witch Nation identity politics, allegiance to the working class, queer alliance and fellow artists.

For decades, their work has been exhibited around the world including permanent public art commissions, notably the Gryphon statue at the entrance to U of G. The pair, based in Mulmur, Ont., have also taught at art schools in Canada, including U of G’s School of Fine Art and Music.

“It’s exciting to see this important recognition of FASTWÜRMS multi-disciplinary art making,” said Dr. Samantha Brennan, dean of the College of Arts.

“In addition to the significance of the art they’ve produced – like our very own Gryphon statue – the students at Guelph have benefited from the collective’s radically collaborative and inclusive approach to art.

“FASTWÜRMS are important locally, as part of our artistic community at U of G, but they are also important to Canada,” Brennan said. “This award is well-deserved and as dean, I’m very happy and proud that FASTWÜRMS are being recognized and honoured in this way.”

FASTWÜRMS scope, longevity and scale ‘incomparable’

The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were created by the Canada Council of Arts in 1999. FASTWÜRMS were nominated by Diane Borsato, professor in the School of Fine Art and Music, and Canadian artists Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell.

A person with long gray hair, head scarf and sunglasses stands in front of pink background beside a person with black toque, glasses, scarf and buttoned shirt.

The award citation said FASTWÜRMS, “have done things that are incomparable in scope, longevity and scale. However, it is their impact through intergenerational collaboration with other artists that will have an even deeper effect – one that is felt through affective exchange rather than mammoth object production.

“Their contribution to the work of other artists through these collaborations is generous, never competitive, radically supportive, inclusive and positive.”

Up to eight awards are distributed each year, including six that recognize artistic achievements. Two awards honour an exceptional fine craft artist and an outstanding contribution to contemporary visual arts, media arts or fine crafts.

Recipients are awarded a medallion and $25,000 each.


Kimberly Moser