For our 30th anniversary issue, the IAQ asked 15 leading figures in Inuit art to nominate an early-career artist to watch. In turn, those artists selected a senior talent who has inspired them. The result is “30 Artists to Know”, an expansive portfolio exploring the intergenerational, familial and community-based bonds that are made visible through art.
Victoria Kakuktinniq is an artist and fashion designer, born and raised in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU. She is the proprietor of the Iqaluit-based design label Victoria’s Arctic Fashion (VAF), and was the winner of the 2015 Nunavut Trade Show’s Business of the Year Award. VAF produces high-end contemporary fashions for women and men, using sealskin (sometimes dyed in eye-dazzling colours) and leather, along with modern rip-resistant fabrics engineered for cold weather. Her parka and blazer designs are contemporary, sophisticated and very functional. Embellished with fine detail and fur trim, Victoria’s body-shaping designs draw upon long-standing Inuit clothing patterns that date back many centuries. Victoria learned to sew from women in her community before honing her talents at MC College in Winnipeg, MB, where she took Fashion Design and Apparel Production.
Victoria is an “Artist to Know”, not only for her outstanding designs, but also because she is part of a young generation of artist-entrepreneurs popping-up across the North. These are artists who are creating their own businesses, working outside the normal channels of Inuit art distribution, liaising directly with customers and retailers, and using social media and the web to build a market for their creative work in Canada and the world. – Norman Vorano
Lizzie Ittinuar (b. 1929 Kangiqliniq), Beaded Amauti, c. 1970s, cotton, wool, beads, coins and lead, 163.8 × 109.9 × 10.2 cm COURTESY PEARY-MACMILLAN ARCTIC MUSEUM & ARCTIC STUDIES CENTER, BOWDOIN COLLEGE
My grandma is Lizzie Ittinuar. She is a well-known maker of amautiit (women’s parkas) and a beader. Her hard work and dedication has really inspired me. Every time I visit her, she is working. Beading takes lots of time and patience. Over the years, she has made quite a few traditional beaded amautiit which can take years to finish.
When I was in high school, I had no idea how to sew. I took a traditional sewing program taught by five elders in Iqaluit. I make more modern parkas with sealskin and I love using the amauti-style hem; it is so feminine and traditional. Everybody loves it! I also put a lot of embroidery on my coats, which is inspired by my grandmother. I looked at her beadwork and I wondered what I could do with my coats. I don’t know how to bead, so I use embroidery with floral designs. I would love to learn beading if I can ever find the time. My mother, Goretti Kakuktinniq, is also an important influence. For as long as I can remember, my mother made our clothing, mitts and parkas. She also uses a lot of embroidery and sealskin, and I love having those traditional elements incorporated into my designs. – Victoria Kakuktinniq
Vorano is Professor of Indigenous and Inuit Art History at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON. Vorano is an active curator and writer contributing numerous features to the Quarterly, including “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Canadian Inuit Art in the Cold War” (27.4, Winter 2014) and “Inuit Men, Erotic Art: Erotic Indecencies… That Need Not Here Be Mentioned” (23.3, Fall 2008).
These profiles appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.