• Feature

10 Inuvialuit Multidisciplinary Artists to Know

Jun 05, 2024
by IAQ

Quviasuglusi Inuvialuit upluanni! Happy Inuvialuit Day! In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement today, we’re highlighting 40 Inuvialuit artists we think you should know in a four-part series. Today we’re looking at 10 multidisciplinary artists from the region, including influential artists from the early years of Ulukhaktok art making, like Mary Okheena, to contemporary artists based in the South, like Kablusiak. 

Copy of GrubenKarisUntitled Karis Gruben Untitled (2018) © THE ARTIST

Karis Gruben

Karis Gruben is an artist that enjoys all media and has made work as a painter, sculptor, beader and illustrator. From Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, Gruben was inspired by her father, the late sculptor William Gruben, and imbues each sculptural work with the same perfectionist nature and incredible focus on minute details. In addition to sculpture, Gruben paints portraits that explore themes like femininity and has more recently made a foray into digital illustration. In 2022 Gruben began work on illustrations based on stories from the Beaufort Delta, to be published in the book River Delta Futures; that same year, her work was featured in Tusaayaksat’s Art Issue. 

Maureen-Gruben_2022_Nakataq-IV-1_R Maureen Gruben Nakataq IV (2022) Hand etchings on photo prints 81.3 x 132.4 x 5.1 cm COURTESY COOPER COLE GALLERY INC. © THE ARTIST

Maureen Gruben
Maureen Gruben is a multimedia artist from Tuktuyaaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who works primarily in installation, performance and textile design. Focusing on themes of environmentalism, melting ice and Indigenous hunting rights, she uses fur, hides, skins and manufactured materials to draw connections between the land and communities that live on it. Gruben has participated in several group and solo exhibitions, including Arctic Highways at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, Washington, in 2023; and most recently The land that used to be at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, BC, in 2024. She was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2021 and Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award in 2023. 


Kablusiak Doll 1 (2024) Rabbit fur, leather, metal hardware and plastic doll eyes 30.5 x 22.9 x 15.2 cm COURTESY NORBERG HALL © THE ARTIST

Kablusiak is an Inuvialuk artist and curator based in Calgary, AB. Their work spans various media—from hard and soft sculpture to photography and drawing—and often touches on themes of contemporary Indigeneity and cultural displacement through a lens of humour. In 2023 Kablusiak became the first Inuvialuk artist to win the Sobey Art Award and that same year was shortlisted for the Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award. In 2022 Kablusiak’s work was featured on a 10-foot mural at OCAD’s Onsite Gallery in Toronto, ON, and later in the year their work at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival received the Gattuso Prize. [1] They were also one of the curators for Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq’s inaugural exhibition, INUA, which opened in March 2021. 

Copy of KuptanaFloydUntitled_R Floyd Kuptana Untitled (2012) Mixed media © THE ARTIST

Floyd Kuptana
Floyd Kuptana (1964–2021) was a prolific artist from Paulatuuq (Paulatuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who worked in sculpture, painting and collage. Starting in the early 1990s, Kuptana sculpted forms out of muskox horn and whale bone. His signature style revolved around the juxtaposition of humour with frightening imagery, using traditional stories and shaman transformations as source material. Later on in his career Kuptana explored the two-dimensional media of painting and collage, depicting the spirit world’s appearance in daily life. Kuptana’s sculpture Ballroom Dancer (2005) was illustrated on the cover of Inuit Art Quarterly in spring 2008; his work has appeared in a number of exhibitions, including The Artist’s Mirror (2018–19) at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, AB. 

Tom-Mcleod-Darcie-Bernhardt_2019_R Installation view of Greed Story (2019) a collaborative work between Darcie Bernhardt and Tom Mcleod at Nocturne in Halifax, NS COURTESY INUIT FUTURES PHOTO BRITT SHIRLEY-MOORE

Tom Mcleod
Tom Mcleod is a Gwich’in and Inuvialuk artist raised in Aklavik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who works in photography, film and multimedia installation. He began his creative practice young, and by the age of 11, a multilingual book he co-authored with Mindy Willett, Le Delta, c’est mon chez moi | The Delta Is My Home | Ehdiitat shanankat t'agoonch'uu Uvanga Nunatarmuitmi aimayuaqtunga (2008), was published. His collaborative short film Greed Story (2019) with Darcie Bernhardt has been shown at national and international film festivals, including imagineNATIVE in Toronto, ON, in 2020, and Maoriland Film Festival in Ōtaki, New Zealand, in 2021. In 2022 Mcleod became co-CEO of the Inuit TV network with the goal of bringing more Inuktitut and Inuit-centric television programming into people's homes. 


Mary Okheena It’s Tea Time (n.d.) Coloured felt, cotton, embroidery thread and fur © THE ARTIST

Mary Okheena
Mary Okheena is a prominent multidisciplinary artist based in Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who is known for her graphic works but has also made many wallhangings and embroidered works. She first learned different printmaking techniques from her father, Jimmy Memorana (1919–2009), and Harry Egotak (1925–2009) and collaborated with Elsie Klengenberg and Mabel Nigiyok on a new stenciling technique. Her work typically depicts subjects inspired from her environment and has reached national and international acclaim; she was the Northwest Territories winner of the BMO 1st Art! award in 2006 with her wallhanging Dance of Life, and she was one of the artists selected to represent the Northwest Territories during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, BC. 

myrna_pokiak_10_R Myrna Pokiak (Agnaviak) Traditional Inuvialuit Drum Dancing Parka (n.d.) COURTESY NWTARTS © THE ARTIST

Myrna Pokiak (Agnaviak)
Myrna Pokiak (Agnaviak) is a multidisciplinary artist, designer and curator from Tuktuyaaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who is inspired by the experiential and cultural teachings she received during her youth. Her artwork is a blend of traditional Inuvialuit art and contemporary art, using photography, videography, graphic art, beading and sewing. She curated Qilalukkat! Belugas and Inuvialuit: Our Survival Together, which was exhibited at the Canadian Museum of Nature from 2019 to 2021. Myrna designed the 2020 Canadian coin that celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Northwest Territories and co-designed a 2023 Canadian coin, with Megan Currie and Jennine Krauchi, that celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day. 

lruben_RLogan Ruben ?akinmi (2023) Acrylic on wood panel 142.2 x 72.4 cm © THE ARTIST

Logan Ruben
Logan Ruben is painter and sculptor from Paulatuuq (Paulatuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. Though surrounded by artistic family members through childhood, it wasn’t until the end of high school that Ruben began to approach his art practice more seriously. Through painting, Ruben crafts the landscapes of Paulatuuq with bright colours and geometric shapes; each painting brings him closer to the land where hunting, fishing and camping were a part of his day-to-day life. Ruben is also a sculptor that works with clay and metal wire to create works inspired by arctic wildlife. One of his paintings was featured in Tusaayaksat’s Art Issue in spring 2020. 

albertaRIW_planetary_RAlberta Rose W./Ingniq The space of Mohkinstsis (detail) (2019) Beadwork and embroidery on canvas © THE ARTIST

Alberta Rose W./Ingniq
Alberta Rose W./Ingniq is a multidisciplinary artist and curator based in Calgary, AB, who works within a variety of media including installation, photography, film and jewellery. Much of her work reflects on social issues pertaining to Indigeneity as well as loss and her personal history. Ingniq’s art has been included in a number of group exhibitions across Canada, including Planetary (2020) at Contemporary Calgary, AB, and -miut (2024) at the Mitchell Art Gallery in Edmonton, AB. In 2021 she was the recipient of a TD Indigenous Artist Award and that same year co-curated Generous Acts at the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre in Edmonton, which included works by fellow Inuvialuit artists Sheena Gibson and Kablusiak. 

shaniaU_Life 2022_RShania Unalena Life (2022) Acrylic © THE ARTIST

Shania Unalena

Shania Unalena an emerging multidisciplinary artist from Tuktuyaaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk) and Inuvik, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT. She became interested in art at a young age and has practised painting, sculpting, drawing, sewing, embroidery and jewellery making. Her earrings often feature beads and fur, with ulu designs. As an Inuit Futures Ilinniaqtuk, Unalena worked as the Program and Administrative Assistant for the 2022 Arctic Arts Summit and contributed to the Knowledge Creators Next program with a reflection on part of the TETHER exhibition in Whitehorse, YT.  



[1] Kablusiak’s mural was part of the Up Front: Inuit Public Art program, an ongoing partnership between the Inuit Art Foundation and Onsite Gallery. 


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