Remembering Kellypalik Qimirpik

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Kellypalik Qimirpik (1948-2017 Kinngait) Man Carrying Stone  2010  Serpentinite and baleen 31.8 x 15.2 x 12.7 cm  Courtesy Canadian Arctic Producers reproduced with permission of Dorset Fine Arts  Photo Abbott imaging

The Inuit Art Quarterly was sad to learn that Kinngait (Cape Dorset) sculptor Kellypalik Qimirpik (1948-2017) passed away earlier this year. He first learned to carve from his brother Allashua Atsiaq in his teens and began carving seriously in his twenties. He preferred to depict Arctic animals and carved polar bears, seals and walruses to appeal to the wider art market.

He was an avid carver, and his career was marked by important commissions and exhibitions. In 2002, he was involved in a large sculptural project in Toronto’s former Battery Park (now The Toronto Inukshuk Park); his 30 foot high inuksuk sculpture was installed to commemorate World Youth Day and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Toronto. Kellypalik created the maquette and selected the rose granite from Dryden, Ontario as it is a similar colour to stone found around Kinngait. Kellypalik carved the individual components from 50 tonnes of stone while heavy machinery put the sculpture into place. In addition to this major project, Kellypalik’s work was exhibited across Canada and internationally, including the decade long touring exhibition Masters of the Arctic: An Exhibition of Contemporary Inuit Masterworks.

Most recently, his work Man Carrying Stone (2010) was included in the spread “From Quarry to Co-op: The Art of Stone” in the most recent, Spring issue (30.1) of Inuit Art Quarterly. After the magazine went to press, the IAQ team learned of Kellypalik’s passing earlier in 2017. We would like to express our most sincere condolences to Kellypalik’s family and friends as well as celebrate his significant contribution to Inuit art.

Inuit Film and Video Archives

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The Nunavut Media Arts Centre in Iqaluit.

The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) announced earlier in March that significant progress has been made on the Inuit Film and Video Archives (IFVA), which was established to preserve and make accessible the significant collection of historic video and film that the IBC holds. The IBC produces award winning television programming by Inuit, for Inuit, supporting and celebrating Inuit cultural identity and practices. The IBC has collected over 40 years of film that includes an estimated 9000 hours of footage, which the IFVA archivists are working to digitally preserve, make accessible and physically protect. The process of digitization began a few years ago with some tapes being sent to Ottawa to be converted and others remaining in Nunavut. Digitization is costly and time-consuming but is important to preserving the legacy and impact of the IBC.

In the past year, both Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Culture and Heritage have provided generous donations allowing the IFVA to continue the process of preservation. Project archivists have also consulted with professors at both Queen’s University and the University of British Columbia on best practices for film archives. Both financial and advisory support ensures that the archive can continue to be a resource for educators and researchers both in Northern and Southern communities across Canada.

The IFVA is housed at the Nunavut Media Arts Centre (NMAC), which opened in December 2015. The NMAC is the first full-scale, state of the art facility that is able to support all aspects of audio and video recording as well as storing the IBC’s extensive archive. The archive is made available to onsite researchers, as well as through digital means. Currently, portions of the collection can be accessed through research requests submitted to the IBC, with some content available online through the IBC website, through Aboriginal Peoples Television Network online, on and by visiting the Nunavut Media Arts Centre in Iqaluit, NU.

For more information on the IFVA and to stay up to date on its progress and services, including catalogue searches, video copies, and more links to online videos, please see the IFVA web page:

2015 summer students Jayko Akoak (left) and Michael Innualuk (right) writing descriptions and cataloging cassettes.


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

Tanya Lukin Linklater’s Choreography of Space

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Tanya Lukin Linklater begins our Skype conversation with a long description of her most recent performance, which took place the previous week at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. She carefully outlines the space, the dancers, the musician, the text, the backstory and the moment of performance. This isn’t unusual; I’ve observed that Lukin Linklater speaks of her projects by way of her working relationships and the process of creation. She does not make statements about any predetermined artistic objective, but instead allows meaning to unfold between the artist, her collaborators, the audience and the institution. Read More

Inuit Art Auction Picks: Fall 2016

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Every fall the Canadian art world ramps up for its premiere auction season, including major auctions of Inuit art. To celebrate, the IAQ team recently sat down to make our picks. Below you’ll find our personal favourites. Beyond the exciting highlights and sure bets, we’ve dug deeper in the catalogues to bring you some works that surprised and delighted us and left us wishing we had an unlimited acquisitions budget. Read More