On May 28, artist, and art collector Theresie Tungilik of Kangiqliniq, NU, was announced as the new National President and Spokesperson of Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)—the first-ever Inuk artist to hold the position. Tungilik has been with the organization since 2017, when she joined CARFAC’s national board and became Vice-president in 2019. The IAQ spoke with Tungilik about the importance of CARFAC for artists, her new role as national president and what she hopes to achieve as president now and into the future.
IAQ: For those who may not know, can you explain what CARFAC is?
Theresie Tungilik: CARFAC is a non-profit corporation that is the national voice for visual artists. It works to help artists to receive better pay for their artwork and to be paid for their art exhibitions. It supports the fair treatment of artists and their rights. We must treat artists equally at all levels—as businesspeople, as humans and as creators.
IAQ: How does it feel to be the first-ever Inuk artist in this role?
TT: When I used to sit on the board, I was representing Nunavut, and mostly that is Inuit. To me, when I have both my feet in such a place, I represent all Inuit in Canada so that they have the same opportunities as the rest of Canada. But as the president of CARFAC, at this point, I now represent all Canadian visual artists. I feel that I've been given a really big opportunity to have my voice heard and also to represent Inuit artists along with other visual artists in this role.
IAQ: What are some of your goals and visions for your work as national president?
TT: I've been fighting for artist resale rights for a very long time. This is one goal I strongly have and is something I really believe in. It would bring more income, not just to Inuit artists but to visual artists across Canada. It would help with bringing more money into our country from other countries that have the artist resale rights law. If this should happen, I hope it will happen during my time as president at CARFAC.
IAQ: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing Inuit artists today?
TT: The economy itself is one. When the economy struggles, the first thing that most people stop doing is buying art. I find that Inuit have less opportunities in a way because there are hardly any art galleries in the territories. Also, one of the hardest things is the cost of living up here—living in the North and the high cost of airlines. For example, if you are a soapstone carver and your piece is big, and if the artwork needs to be shipped elsewhere out of our territory, that really has an impact on the price. Appropriation of Inuit art and clothing designs seems to be on the rise as well.
IAQ: Where can artists find more information about CARFAC?
TT: Visual artists that would like to know more about CARFAC, can visit the website and see all the different things we've been working on. They can also look at their own rights, especially if they have an exhibition coming up, such as what is their role and what is the role of the gallery. If they want to know what is available, the website is the best place to find out more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.