Jocelyn Piirainen is an artist, curator and filmmaker originally from Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay), NU and currently based in Winnipeg, MB. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University, majoring in Film Studies, and has also attended Algonquin College and the New York Institute of Photography. Piirainen's educational training has focused on the arts, particularly film and new media, and her current artistic practice primarily involves analog photography. Her written pieces have also been featured in Canadian Art, Canadian Geographic and the Inuit Art Quarterly. She joined the curatorial department at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in March 2019 as the inaugural Assistant Curator of Inuit Art. She described this position by noting that “I hope to continue engaging the Indigenous community here in Winnipeg, as well as sharing the stories and visuals of these works with everyone” .
Piirainen has worked on numerous exhibitions, screenings and arts festivals. As part of the first Indigenous Curatorial Incubator program offered through SAW Video, she co-curated the short film programme “UnMENtionables: Indigenous Masculinities" at the 2015 Asinabka Film & Media Arts Festival in Ottawa, ON. In 2016, Piirainen organized Neon NDN: Indigenous Pop-Art at SAW Gallery in Ottawa, ON, which included works by Tanya Lukin Linklater, Annie Pootoogook (1969—2016), Qavavau Manumie, Shuvinai Ashoona, Nicotye Samayualie and others . She was a co-curator of the landmark exhibition Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak that was featured at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, ON from June 16 to August 12, 2018. Piirainen collaborated with other artists, curators and scholars, such as Koomuatuk (Kuzy) Curley, Taqralik Partridge, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Georgiana Uhlyarik and Anna Hudson to curate the work of renowned visual artists from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, Kenojuak Ashevak, CC, RCA (1927—2013) and Tim Pitsiulak (1967—2016). Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak was Pitsiulak’s first major retrospective exhibition, and the exhibition was also the first time Inuit art was displayed in the Sam and Ayala Zacks Pavilion, the largest exhibition space at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Piirainen’s latest exhibition, Small Worlds at the Winnipeg Art Gallery includes over 100 miniature carvings created by Inuit artists from across Nunavut between 1950 and 1970. “Many of these miniatures also reflect the everyday busyness of Inuit including that of men hunting seals, fish or whales – or of women scraping sealskins or tending to the qulliq (oil lamp),” Piirainen explains . She also added “These scenes then create small worlds where stone and bone become the landscape and the stories and livelihood of Inuit are told by these miniature carvings” .
1. Napatsi Folger, “Jocelyn Piirainen Joins Winnipeg Art Gallery as Assistant Curator,” Inuit Art Quarterly, March 19, 2019, http://iaq.inuitartfoundation.org/jocelyn-piirainen-joins-winnipeg-art-gallery-as-assistant-curator/
2. Alexandra Nahwegahbow, “Neon NDN: Indigenous Pop-Art,” Inuit Art Quarterly 29, no.4 (2016): 46-47.
3. “Inuit Miniature Carvings on View in New Exhibit – Jocelyn Piirainen curates Small Worlds for her first show at WAG,” Nation Talk, July 25, 2019, http://nationtalk.ca/story/inuit-miniature-carvings-on-view-in-new-exhibit-jocelyn-piirainen-curates-small-worlds-for-her-first-show-at-wag