Our present to you this holiday season: eleven of your favourite stories from this year, all wrapped up in one place for your enjoyment. Learn about the amazing gains made by Inuit artists in 2020, the stories that made big headlines, and ways we found to keep entertained with Inuit art while at home, all handpicked by you.
Installation view of Among All These Tundras, Onsite Gallery, OCAD University, Toronto (2019) PHOTO YUULA BENIVOLSKI
In the early days of the pandemic shutdown, we assembled a collection of resources aimed at ensuring you could still access Inuit art from home, which quickly became some of the best loved posts on our site. Ranging from places to access Inuit film online to the virtual exhibitions available (which grew so quickly we had to add a part two!), you’ll find Inuit children’s activities, an Inuit-authored booklist and a playlist featuring music from across Inuit Nunangat. For those times when you don’t want to (or can’t) put on your pants and leave your house, look no further than our Couch Content series.
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Jamie Griffiths Silaup Putunga Iluani (Inside the Hole in the Universe) (film still) (2018) COURTESY OF LAAKKULUK WILLIAMSON BATHORY AND JAMIE GRIFFITHS
Artist Award Wins
You love to read about artists winning awards, and we love to report on it! In May, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory won the inaugural Indigenous Artist Award from the Sinchi Foundation for her work raising awareness of Inuit performance. June brought us a win for multidisciplinary artist Kablusiak, who took home a 2020 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Award for artistic excellence. Most recently, Katherine Takpannie became one of three artists to win the 2020 New Generation Photography Award in recognition of her photographic practice. Honourable mention to musician Riit as well, whose debut album, ataataga (2019), was nominated for the 2020 Indigenous Music Album of the Year at the Junos and longlisted for Album of the Year at the Polaris Music Prize. #Uvangattauq, one of the tracks off the same album, was also shortlisted for the SOCAN 2020 Songwriting Prize.
Photo of asinnajaq (2019) Photo Patty Tyrell
Asinnajaq Wins $25,000 Sobey Art Award from New Zealand
Yes it’s an artist award win, but you loved it so much we had to give this story its own space on the list.The 2020 Sobey Art Award was split between all the artists on the judges’ longlist, which this year included filmmaker and curator asinnajaq. Asinnajaq took home a $25,000 prize and became the only Inuk artist ever to win the Sobey Art Award other than Annie Pootoogook, who won the prize in 2006. One of a handful of Inuit artists who travelled to Sydney, Australia, to participate in the 2020 Sydney Biennale Aabaakwaad NIRIN, asinnajaq was actually grounded in New Zealand at the time of her win due to the imposition of new COVID-19 travel restrictions. Nevertheless, when Profiles Editor Emily Henderson reached her in New Zealand she said “I’m thankful to have been nominated, to have been on the longlist and to be a winner when there are so many other incredible artists I get to share the honour with. I’m in good company.”
Kenojuak Ashevak Iqalutsiavak (Beautiful Fish) (2005) Stonecut and stencil 26 x 32 in REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION DORSET FINE ARTS © the artist
Owners Find Cache of Kenojuak Ashevak Prints in Abandoned House
One of the more unexpected stories of this year was that of Andrey and Tamara Noskov, who found a cache of more than 30 prints from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, among the items left behind in a house they had purchased in Michigan. We broke the story on September 3rd, and after receiving much love from the community it was picked up by other major news outlets both nationally and internationally, such as APTN, CBC and The State.
Unidentified artist Embroidered bureau scarf with MacMillan-Moravian school, church, the Bowdoin and tree (n.d.) (detail) Floss on linen 41 × 122 cm COURTESY THE PEARY-MACMILLAN ARCTIC MUSEUM, BOWDOIN COLLEGE Photo LUC DEMERS
100 Unidentified Embroideries
Originally part of our Winter 2020 issue Threads, the story of the nearly 100 unidentified Nunatsiavut embroideries in the collection of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College in Maine was a pocket of Inuit art history previously unexplored. Donated to the museum more than 50 years ago, Genevieve LeMoine and Susan A Kaplan chronicle their search for answers as to who made the works and what knowledge about Nunatsiavut was stitched into them, a search that led them on multiple trips up and down the Labrador coast to bring the embroideries back to community members.
Qaumajuq, Winnipeg Art Gallery COURTESY OF MICHAEL MALTZAN ARCHITECTURE
Indigenous Arts and Language Formally Recognized by Major Institutions
After nearly three years of construction, the structure built by the Winnipeg Art Gallery to house Inuit art—known up until now informally as the Inuit Art Centre—was given its proper name, Qaumajuq, by a circle of Indigenous language keepers. In a major moment of decolonization at one of Canada’s largest museums, the Circle also assigned an Anishinaabemowin name to the WAG, as well as naming spaces within. Across the globe, in another instance of recognition and celebration of circumpolar Indigenous artists, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway announced that the Nordic Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale would be renamed to the Sámi Pavilion and feature Sámi artists exclusively for the first time ever.
Photo of Charlotte Qamaniq COURTESY THE ARTIST
The New Reality of Performance
Performers have been forced to be more creative than usual this year as they work around public safety measures that restrict their access to an in-person audience. Among a rash of show cancellations and layoffs, Inuit performers like Beatrice Deer and Reneltta Arluk have found new ways to reach their audiences. Among the many instances of resilience in this industry, you loved our story on Charlotte Qamaniq of the Juno-nominated duo Silla + Rise, who through the De-ICE-Olation online artist workshops organized by Inuit Futures and the Inuit Art Foundation taught thirty people to throatsing over Zoom with some interesting results.
Megan Kyak-Monteith Whale Hunt (2018) Oil 91.4 x 182.9 cm COURTESY THE ARTIST
The Growth of Megan Kyak-Monteith
Painter Megan Kyak-Monteith emerged as a superstar this year. After we republished a Profile on Kyak-Monteith’s work from the Winter 2018 issues of the IAQ early this year, the enthusiastic response of our audience made us look for other opportunities to showcase her. On the occasion of her first major solo exhibition—which unfortunately closed early due to public health concerns—we shared the stop-motion animation piece she created for the show, as well as an exclusive interview with the artist. Kyak-Monteith’s exceptional work meant that when we were preparing for the Winter 2020 issue on painting, we knew very quickly who the cover artist would be.
Arnaquq Ashevak Springtime Fishing (1994) Lithograph and stencil 57.2 × 76.2 cm REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION DORSET FINE ARTS © The artist
Drawn From Water
Originally part of our Summer 2020 issue Water, this portfolio on the ways artists have depicted water at the shore, on the surface and in the deep was inspired by Inuit relationships to water as a tool for survival and as a means of storytelling. When it arrived online, you went crazy for the saturated colours and evocative compositions we assembled. If you haven’t already, check it out to learn how Inuit artists have illustrated water, sculpted waves and shown the water below the surface.
Jessica Winters, Jesse James Ford, Seth Ford, Hannah Gear and Michelle Nochasak work on the mural as passerby look on. COURTESY JESSICA WINTERS
New Mural Painted by Local Artists in Makkovik
Public art is always an occasion to celebrate, and you rejoiced with us over the triumphs of Jessica Winters and four student interns, who worked for months during the summer to create an enormous mural that spans the entire length of Frank’s General Store in Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL. We spoke with Winters about the genesis of the project and the importance of painting education in the North, and then walked through this mural’s progress from start to finish in photos.
Napatsi Folger Kenojuak Ashevak (2020) marker paper, pen, alcohol markers 4.5 x 16.5 cm COPYRIGHT IAF
Inuit Art Icons in Comics
Over the course of seven months this year we published a series of iconic Inuit artists and their work reimagined in comic strip form by our Contributing Editor Napatsi Folger. Examining the work of artists like Kenojuak Ashevak and Joe Talirunili from her own viewpoint as an Inuit artist, Folger traced their lived experiences with original narratives based on quotes from the artists themselves, resulting in a group of Inuit art comics well-loved by both our team and you. From the comic stylings of Tivi Etook to the indignant expressions of Karoo Ashevak’s sculptures, see your favourite artists in a whole new way.
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.