Shuvinai Ashoona Appointed to the RCA

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In May 2016, Shuvinai Ashoona was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) for drawing. Although Ashoona was unable to attend the formal ceremony in Vancouver, the Inuit Art Foundation was able to assist in send her award to Kinngait with board member Pat Feheley in early February 2017. A community gathering was organized on February 8, 2017–including members of her family and Mayor Padlaya Qiatsuk–where Ashoona was surprised and presented her diploma and sash. Ashoona joins the ranks of a significant group of Inuit artists who share the RCA distinction including Helen Kalvak, OC (1901-1984; awarded 1974), Jessie Oonark, OC (awarded 1975) and Kananginak Pootoogook (awarded 1979).

Shuvinai Ashoona with her RCA at Kinngait Studios, 2017. Photo Nancy Campbell.

Ashoona’s drawings explore a range of themes from the politics of contemporary life in the North, of being an Inuk woman and of being an artist. She uses both phantasmagoric imagery and representations that are rooted in her experiences. Animals, humans and mystical creatures of various shapes and sizes are a thread throughout her works and depicted in a variety of real and imagined scenarios.

Shuvinai Ashoona (b. 1961 Kinngait)  Composition (Elephant, Octopus and Other Animals)  2016  Coloured pencil and ink 58.4 x 76.2 cm  Courtesy Feheley Fine Arts  Reproduced with permission of Dorset Fine Arts

Her work has been included in major exhibitions across Canada and internationally, including recent group exhibitions at The Esker Foundation, Calgary and Mercer Union, Toronto. Ashoona has also collaborated on numerous drawings and a publication with Toronto-based artist, Shary Boyle. The two artists share a complimentary aesthetic that has led to innovative works. Ashoona is the subject of a recent, digital publication by the Art Canada Institute, written by Dr. Nancy Campbell. She is the second Inuit artist to be profiled in an ACI Online Art Book; the first was Pitseolak Ashoona, RCA, who was the subject of a 2015 book written by Christine Lalonde. Both can be accessed online at Further, Ashoona was included in Phaidon’s major survey publication Vitamin D2: New Perspectives in Drawing, by Christian Rattemeyer. Ashoona’s RCA distinction is an important recognition of her prolific and impactful work as an artist.
Congratulations Shuvinai from everyone at the Inuit Art Quarterly!

Inuit Art at the 57th Venice Biennale

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Kananginak Pootoogook, RCA (1935-2010) has been named as a participating artist in this years Venice Biennale, opening May 13, 2017. The late Kinngait (Cape Dorset) artist, known for his distinct figurative style and often humorous approach in both his graphic and sculptural works, is the first Inuit artist to be included in the fair. Read More

Astral Bodies

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November 25, 2016 – 4 February, 2017

Astral Bodies, curated by York Lethbridge and currently on view at Mercer Union in Toronto, includes the work of five women whose individual practices address real or imagined spaces beyond physical realms—where the materiality of human existence is placed in relation to what may occur outside of our limited perceptual experience. Each artist’s engagement with the non-physical or astral realm is deeply personal, resulting in a multiplicity of positions brought together under Lethbridge’s curatorial theme. The result is an exhibition that allows viewers to speculate what the otherworldly may hold—and why it is predominantly women artists who are creating pathways into this metaphysical engagement. Read More

PROFILE: Couzyn van Heuvelen

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Spotlight on Emerging Talent

Iqaluit-born sculptor and installation artist Couzyn van Heuvelen might be most recognized for his recent artwork at iNuit blanche, shimmering silver, sealskin-patterned balloons. (Full disclosure, I was a co-curator of the festival but the proof is in the proverbial Instagram pudding.) The project, titled Avataq, consists of several handmade foil balloons resembling traditional sealskin floats. Read More

Annie Pootoogook (1969 – 2016)

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Annie Pootoogook was the daughter of the late Eegyvudluk Pootoogook and Napachie Pootoogook, both artists themselves. She came from a great artistic background, which included her uncles Qaqaq and Kiugak Ashoona, as well as Kananginak Pootoogook. Annie revered her famous grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona; as a young girl she remembered Pitseolak bringing her drawings to the print shop. Read More

Change Makers

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February 25 – April 10, 2016

What, or rather who, is a change maker? This is the central question that lingered for me after visiting Change Makers at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, which featured works by seven Indigenous artists working across North America and Europe. Given the gallery’s newly-implemented mandate to incorporate “diverse Indigenous perspectives within exhibitions and programming,” the answer seems implied but was not fully articulated. Read More

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