• Feature

10 of Your Favourite Stories from 2021

Dec 20, 2021
by Jessica MacDonald

We’re re-gifting this holiday season. Once more, our present to you is 10 of your favourite stories from the last year, all wrapped up in one place for your enjoyment! Learn about the amazing gains made by Inuit artists in 2021, the stories that made big headlines and the many, many artworks created this year, all handpicked by you.


Tanya Innaarulik
Orange Shirt Day Design (2021)

5 Inuit Artists to Support on Orange Shirt Day
With all the news about residential schools, we knew this year’s Orange Shirt Day would be a big deal, but we never expected this story about Inuit artists making orange shirts would become the most read story in the history of our site. When we saw businesses that had no relationships with Indigenous groups profiting off the sale of t-shirts for Orange Shirt Day, we decided to make a resource promoting orange items made by Inuit creators with connections to charities that directly support survivors or knowledge-keeping efforts about residential schools. Thank you for joining us in recognizing this day and supporting Indigenous creators in such a big way.


Germaine Arnaktauyok
Food Provider (2005) Etching and aquatint 52.1 x 42.5 in

8 Female Inuit Artists at the Top of Their Game
International Women’s Day on March 8th brought us the opportunity to celebrate some contemporary female Inuit artists who have carved out special niches for themselves in the art world, recognizing their innovations in medium, the unique masterpieces they’ve created and the acclaim they’ve deservedly accrued. Seeing your response showed us how hungry you were for stories of women succeeding, prompting more stories over the rest of the year!

Goota Ashoona Qaumajuq Sculpture Installation 4. Photo Calvin Lee Joseph.

Goota Ashoona
Tuniigusiia/The Gift (2020) Verde Guatemala marble 7’ x 4’ x 4’

One of the Largest Inuit Sculptures in the World is Created for One of the Largest Inuit Art Museums in the World
This year saw the unveiling of both one of the largest Inuit sculptures ever created and one of the largest Inuit art museums ever created. Goota Ashoona’s 10-tonne sculpture was installed in front of WAG-Qaumajuq in January, mere weeks before the Winnipeg Art Gallery opened the doors to the building, a new Inuit art centre designed to house and display the WAG’s massive collection. Outside, Ashoona’s piece was joined in short order by another large-scale sculpture by Abraham Anghik Ruben, while inside the inaugural exhibition INUA kicked off, helmed by four Inuit curators and centring Inuit cultural values in its exhibition design


Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory
performing in Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools in Toronto, ON (2017)

Artist Award Wins
Wow were there ever a lot of artist wins this year—and you loved them all! Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory took home Canada’s largest art prize, the Sobey Art Award—mounting an ambitious polar-bear skin performance piece in the artist exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada—while Tanya Lukin Linklater, Maureen Gruben and Glenn Gear all made history alongside her as the first four circumpolar Indigenous creators ever on the Sobey’s longlist together. Early in the year Germaine Arnaktauyok won the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, while just weeks ago, Norma Dunning was announced winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-Language Fiction. 

There were big gains in the film industry too, as Zacharias Kunuk’s Angakusajaujuq won Best Canadian Short Film at TIFF and Jennie Williams’ Nalujuk Night took home Best Atlantic Short Documentary at the FIN Atlantic Film Festival; Anna Lambe was even nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Canadian Screen Awards for the second time! Inuit designers Erica Joan Lugt and Olivia Chislett were winners of the National Fur Design Competition. Finally, the IAF awarded the biennial Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award (KAMA) to Tarralik Duffy, shortlisting Couzyn van Heuvelen, Kablusiak and Eldred Allen alongside her in the process, giving away $20,000 total in cash prizes to the winner and shortlist and a solo show and artist residency at WAG-Qaumajuq to Duffy as the winner. 


Lizzie Ittinuar
Beaded Amauti (detail) (c. 1970) Cotton, beads, wool and lead 163.8 × 109.9 × 10.2 cm

Much Love for Krista Ulujuk Zawadski
What can we say about Krista Ulujuk Zawadski? A powerhouse writer and curator, Zawadski had her fingers in many of the big stories this year. In addition to being one of the four Inuit curators of INUA, mentioned above, her articles continue to surprise and delight audiences, editorial staff and the industry alike. You loved her special feature on the history of glass bead usage in Inuit needlework, from our special 2019 Venice issue, and when her piece on the secret messages inside Qamani’tuaq wallhangings came out we loved it so much that we decided to translate it into Inuktitut for you! We’re not the only ones that loved it: among the seven nominations the IAQ received this year at the National Magazine Awards was this very same piece that was nominated in the category of Best Short Feature Writing.


Composition (2020) Watercolour 48.3 x 75.6 cm

Painting is Not New.
You loved our Winter 2020 issue on painting so much that when pieces from it went up online, the views just kept on coming! Through stories comparing Inuit landscape artists to the Group of Seven, linking the dreamy oil paintings of Megan Kyak-Monteith to the Romantic tradition, and highlighting emerging artists like Logan Ruben, Darcie Bernhardt and Hannah Tooktoo, we worked to overturn the idea that painting is an “emerging” medium for Inuit artists today, instead situating them in a long artistic tradition with greats from across the art world.


Terriak and her Anansiak, Elle Nora Ford (Terriak), in the beginning of spring 2000 at a cabin on Black Island
Courtesy Jaelyn Terriak

Representation is near and dear to our hearts, which is why it’s been so wonderful to see your response to articles about it over the past year. Early on we posted a piece from Afro-Inuk writer Jaelyn Terriak about how seeing the perfect intersection of her own identity in art helped her use her voice, and the story has been amplified mightily by the many views it received! Later, we began hosting a series of virtual talks with the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, featuring Inuit (and more broadly circumpolar Indigenous) artists and arts workers discussing Inuit sovereignty, representation and identity in the art world, including a fascinating conversation about Queerness in Inuit art. Over it all, we were working to add more Inuit voices to the scholarship around Inuit art in institutional collections—using TD Bank’s art collection, we produced a 12-part series featuring young and emerging Inuit writers discussing individual artworks, like this wonderful piece from Kablusiak about Inuit in mass-manufactured toys and a reflection from our own Contributing Editor Leanne Inuarak-Dall about her sense of kinship with a Kiugak Ashoona sculpture.


A pair of sealskin boots that Veronica Flowers made for herself (2020)

How Inuit Women Changed Art
We know how much you love to hear about women doing amazing things (see item two on this list!), which is why we started a series focusing on the often under-explored contributions Inuit women have made to specific artistic mediums. Vanessa and Veronica Flowers shared the process of making rare black-bottomed sealskin boots as taught to them by their grandmother, a method of sewing that has been passed down through generations but is now known by only a handful of women in Nunatsiavut. Ujarak Appadoo examined the history of amauti creation in Arviat, NU, and how women evolved their processes from hand-sewn animal skin garments to creating and selling online today. And Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona looked at the violent histories told in prints by her grandmother Victoria Mamnguqsualuk, exploring how she could continue the tradition from a modern viewpoint with printmaking today. 


Nicole Camphaug
Leopard Ring Seal Stilettos (2017) sealskin and leather

Art Market On Fire
You’re always up to hear about the market for Inuit art, whether it’s contemporary creators selling today—the top story on this very list comes to mind, but so do our specials on sealskin designers to watch out for or jewellers whose work you should covet—or the resale of artwork by auction houses like First Arts. Some of the biggest Inuit artists like Kenojuak Ashevak are so well known in part because of the prices their pieces continue to command, and the story behind why pieces like “Joe Boats” for example are so expensive seem to be unendingly fascinating for the ways they make us think about commodification, consumption and artistic legacy.


Jeannie Snowball
Ookpik (1965) Sealskin, hide and cotton thread 25.4 x 20.3 x 19 cm

An Arctic Animal Kingdom
Animals and Inuit art—need we say more? Artists have dedicated acres of paper and pounds of stone to depicting Arctic animals. Whether it’s the classic Ookpik doll and how it started the Kuujjuaq Co-op or the many, many articles we’ve created on specific animal antics, you can’t get enough (and neither can we). May we present you the whole collection: portrayals of whales, stellar seals, notable narwhals, captivating caribou, awesome avians, superb sled dogs, whiskered walruses and ursine ephemera from polar bear prints to dancing bears—even Kenojuak Ashevak’s aptly named owls. For scads of animal art, look no further.

If you liked the stories we’ve produced throughout this year, why not subscribe to our magazine or donate to our cause? Get Inuit art delivered right to you and help us tell more stories and connect artists with opportunities today.

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