On November 11th, 1975, Inuit leaders signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. Together with the Nunavik Land Claims Agreement, which came into law on July 10, 2007, these agreements formed Nunavik as we know it today. To celebrate the gains in autonomy and visibility made by Nunavimmiut, today we’re showing off ten Nunavik artists you need to know. Keep scrolling to see the breadth of art-making in Nunavik!
Maggie Napartuk Snowflake (2016) Linocut 33.5 x 28.5 cm Courtesy La Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau Québec
Maggie Napartuk is one of a small but growing number of linocut printmakers in Nunavik. Originally from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, and now based out of Inukjuak, Nunavik, QC, Napartuk's artistic practice consists of metalwork, jewellery making, illustration and graphic arts in addition to her printmaking.
Davidialuk Alasua Amittu Sedna Caught in a Net (n.d.) Stone 11 × 26.5 × 4 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S
Davidialuk Alasua Amittu
Davidialuk Alasua Amittu (1910-1976) was a widely respected sculptor who was greatly inspired by the traditional stories he heard as a child. He pursued his artistic career from Puvirnituq, Nunavik, QC, beginning by carving wood, ivory and stone before expanding his artistic practice to include drawing and printmaking in the 1970s. Internationally known, he has been featured many times in the Inuit Art Quarterly, making the cover of our Fall 2014 issue and appearing most recently in the IAQ’s Summer 2020 issue, Water, as part of a portfolio examining representations of water in Inuit art.
Hannah Tooktoo Fireweed (2020) Acrylic and gouache 25.4 × 20.3 cm Courtesy the artist
Hannah Tooktoo is an emerging artist from Kuujjuaq working across numerous media. A recent graduate of Dawson College’s Visual Arts Program, Tooktoo often combines multiple media in each piece, variously including painting, drawing, carving, beadwork and textiles. Tooktoo describes her art as therapy, often using it as a means to explore internal conflict while revealing and healing emotional wounds. She was most recently featured in the Spring 2021 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
Thomassie Mangiok Untitled (2019) Digital Illustration Courtesy the Artist
A graphic designer from Ivujivik, Nunavik, QC, Thomassie Mangiok uses his artistic skills to create digital illustrations. Themes of Inuktut language resurgence make up a major part of his artistic practice, and he has developed comics, apps, animated films and more to support his language activism. During the De-ICE-Olation online Inuit artist workshop series in spring 2020, Mangiok taught his audience how to effectively design logos, and coached other artists in business branding skills.
Tivi Etok Dance of the Hares (1974) Stonecut 10 x 14 in Courtesy La Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau Québec
Tivi Etok is a printmaker and graphic artist based out of Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, who is influenced by legends and traditional ways of life. With the release of Whispering in my ears and mingling with my dreams in 1975, Etok became the first Inuk artist ever to publish a solo print collection. Etok’s work has been the subject of intense scholarship and multiple solo exhibitions. His trilingual biography, The World of Tivi Etok, was published in 2008, and the IAQ recently featured him in our Inuit Art Icons in Comics series.
Elisapie performing at the 2019 Polaris Awards Photo Dustin Rabin
Elisapie is a musician, filmmaker, writer and activist from Salluit, Nunavik, QC, who has been performing since 1998. Her most recent album, The Ballad of the Runaway Girl (2018), received a 2019 Juno nomination and was shortlisted for the 2019 Polaris Prize. She performed at the 2019 Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajauto, Mexico, and gave a Tiny Desk Concert for National Public Radio. She also wrote and directed an award-winning documentary titled Sila Piqujipat (If the Weather Permits) in 2003. Elisapie uses her work across all disciplines to serve as a platform for issues facing Indigenous groups.
Victoria Okpik Qisilik Parka (2020) Courtesy Okpik Designs
A Montreal-based fashion designer originally from Quaqtaq, Nunavik, QC, Victoria Okpik spent 19 years as a designer and seamstress for the Makivik Corporation-owned company Nunavik Creations before starting her own label, Okpik Creations, in 2019. A graduate of LaSalle College’s Fashion program, she creates parkas, bags, accessories and more for clients like astronaut David Saint-Jacques and musician Elisapie, pictured above in Okpik’s design at the 2019 Polaris Awards.
Joe Talirunili Boat and Six Men (c. 1965) Stone, ivory and sinew 10 × 17.7 × 13.2 cm COURTESY ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO
Joe Talirunili was an artist from Puvirnituq, Nunavik, QC, who is best known for his Migration series of predominantly stone boat sculptures that tell the story of a dangerous sea migration from his childhood. Unpolished, his sculptures can appear fragile and are a mix of different materials like bone, wood, sealskin, plastic or string. Talirunili holds the record for highest price ever reached by an Inuit artist at auction, and his works have been featured in dozens of exhibitions all over the world. Like Etok, he too was featured in our Inuit Art Icons in Comics series.
Asinnajaq Three Thousand (2017) Animation 14:04 min Courtesy National Film Board
asinnajaq is a visual artist, filmmaker, writer and curator from Inukjuak, Nunavik, QC, whose practice is grounded in research and collaboration. Her film Three Thousand (2017) was nominated for Best Short Documentary at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards. Part of the curatorial team for the Canadian Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, asinnajaq is also one of the curators for the upcoming inaugural exhibition at Qaumajuq in Winnipeg, MB. In spring 2020, following her showcase at the Biennial of Sydney—where she was grounded in New Zealand due to COVID-19 flight restrictions—she won a prestigious Sobey Art Award.
Thomassie Kudluk Fishing Scene (n.d.) Stone, string and wood 14 × 16.5 × 2.5 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S
Thomassie Kudluk (1910-1989) was an artist from Kangirsuk, Nunavik, QC. Although Kudluk primarily worked in stone to create sculpture, he also included drawing in his artistic practice. The pieces he created in both mediums, however, are well known for their humour and storytelling, which Kudluk often inscribed in syllabics. With his long titles, observational humour and often ironic use of inscription, Kudluk’s work was often a source of laughter and was featured in the group exhibition Ijurnaqtut: Whimsy, Wit and Humour in Inuit Art at Carleton University Art Gallery in 2011, among many others.
Click here to explore the breadth of art-making in Nunavik!