For our 30th anniversary issue, the IAQ asked 15 leading figures in Inuit art to nominate an early-career artist to watch. In turn, those artists selected a senior talent who has inspired them. The result is “30 Artists to Know”, an expansive portfolio exploring the intergenerational, familial and community-based bonds that are made visible through art.
I have nominated Nicotye Samayualie as an “Artist to Know” for several reasons. She has a thoughtful and diligent focus that she applies to her daily routine of creating art, imbuing her work with a sensitivity and an order that is all her own. To my mind, Nicotye has a special ability as an artist to occupy a space outside of the busy pace of daily life, allowing her to look in on and reflect back a way of life and the passage of time.
The artist often revisits subjects, including a personal favourite of mine: overviews of shorelines. She is meticulous in drawing each pebble and crevice, positioning them as though it were a chess match. And while her landscapes have a serenity to their composition, there is always an urgency in her line. I am regularly struck with how Nicotye’s imagery of the natural environment reminds me of Japanese prints. There is a precision and calmness that comes through, which borders on the abstract.
It is my hope that Nicotye will have the opportunity to work internationally and that she will delight in a career as an artist. In a recent conversation with her, she told me her long-term goal is to work with the youth in the community, to mentor them in the act of creativity. Already, she is thinking as an elder. – Paul Machnik
I used to think when my late grandparents were carving that I would like to become like them and maybe become an artist. My late father used to say that we should start carving or drawing. Have you ever heard of the “Queen of Art” Kenojuak Ashevak? My dream was to be known as a “princess of art”. When Tim Pitsiulak, Bill Ritchie and I were at the Great Northern Arts Festival in 2014, there were many artists, musicians and storytellers who encouraged me not to focus so much on time or to think too much about the act of drawing, [but] just to be in the moment.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of my late father’s late mother, she used to be an artist [and] she drew many birds. I’ve been trying to draw owls in a different way. Her name was Keeleemeeoomee. She was my grandmother, but she passed away when I was one month old. Whenever I draw, something invisible touches my hair, so I think my ancestors might be supporting me while I’m making art. I think somebody’s proud of me. I think of our late ancestors as our guardian angels. – Nicotye Samayualie
Machnik is the Founder of Studio PM and has been printing etching and aquatints by Inuit artists since 1976. Machnik first visited Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, in 1994 and in the ensuing years he has editioned work by noted artists Kenojuak Ashevak, CC, ON, RCA (1927–2013), Elisapee Ishulutaq, CM, Sheojuk Etidlooie and Germaine Arnaktauyok.
These profiles appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
30 Artists to Know Feature