Carving out a piece of the artistic pie

U of M alumna Solange Roy awarded with the BMO 1st art prize

Making your name and money as an artist is notoriously difficult, but recent U of M fine arts grad Solange Roy has gotten a little boost in the form of $7,500 and an opportunity to showcase her art in Toronto thanks to the BMO 1st Art! competition.

Roy’s work, “You Want a Piece of Me?” received the prize for the region of Manitoba.

The piece is a life-sized, amazingly realistic ceramic cake, complete with strawberries and shiny chocolate dripping down the sides of the tall, pink-frosted walls. The work is a sort of reverse of the TikTok trend where people made cakes that looked convincingly like other objects. 

Roy said that her journey in ceramics began in high school, where she was inspired by her art teacher who encouraged her to explore the field. 

“My first year of university I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue the arts, so I tried out a couple different things and just university one,” Roy said. “But I just liked art too much, so I decided to go full time into art school.”

Roy’s prize-winning piece was a part of her final project for her fine arts degree — an assortment of ceramic desserts that explore Roy’s personal connection to food, and reflects on consumerism and the empty calories of constant consumption.

But beyond these thematic pursuits, Roy also wanted to challenge herself technically.

“I wanted to sort of push the boundaries of what I could make with clay,” she explained. “I had never made anything that large.”

Roy also enjoys tricking her audience, making clay look realistically delicious.

“I really fell in love with that idea of making ceramic food, and trying to fool the eye of the beholder in a way,” she said. “At first glance a lot of people didn’t realize that the food that I made was fake until they walked up to it.”

The name “You Want a Piece of Me?” goes along with several of the other fun and irreverent titles of Roy’s dessert pieces, like the candy apples called “Sweet to the Core” or the collection of cookies titled “You Make my Dreams Crumb True,” but the title of the cake has a slight edge to it.

“It’s a bit of a defiant take as well,” Roy said.

For Roy, the BMO prize has helped to kickstart her career.

“It’s a good way to put my foot in the door right outside of graduation, because making a living off of art is not easy,” she explained.

“And obviously the winning, the earnings also helped me build a better studio space for myself, and I was able to purchase a kiln to start up my small business.”

Right now, Roy hopes to establish herself a bit in the ceramics world and is currently working by commission on custom pieces, though her ultimate goal is to become a fine arts professor.