• Feature

Arviat Mural Artist Gives Hamlet Office a Makeover

Saniraq: Inuit Muralists Bring Colour to the North

Feb 19, 2021
by Napatsi Folger

From the Chauvet Cave of Southern France to the internationally renowned art of Banksy, humans have been creating murals for over 30,000 years. In this Portfolio we celebrate the colourful murals of five Inuit artists across Canada. 

Though only in her college foundation, Charlotte Karetak has already painted six murals in communities across Nunavut, including at the Meadowbank Gold Mine site, outside of Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, and in her home community of Arviat, NU. 

The murals she paints are inspired by her life in Arviat, ranging from bright summer skies of pinks, blues and oranges, to the icy whites and blues of a winter landscape blanketed in snow.

Karetak attributes her creativity to her anaanatsiaq, Rhoda Akpaliapik Karetak, who received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 from the Office of the Governor General for her drawing, painting, mixed media and sewing skills, and her anaana, Susan Karetak, who is a skilled seamstress and craftsperson. Like Rhoda’s signature flowers or Susan’s caribou antler mobiles, Charlotte Karetak gleans inspiration from the land around her and paints with vivid imagery and colours to render the sky in Arviat, which is a very flat area of tundra. As the artist notes, “You can basically see the sky all the way around you and there’s so many different colours during summer time. I think that’s what makes me want to paint colourful and bright skies.” 

If you’ve ever seen the incandescent scenes of Arctic skylines in person, it’s easy to understand the appeal of such imagery for large-scale art such as murals and Karetak’s colour palette blends beautifully with the orange background wall, contrasting nicely with the grays of the inuksuit in the foreground. 

Though she worked independently on the featured mural installed in the Arviat Hamlet Office, Karetak finds the ability to engage with youth on community creative projects the most appealing aspect of mural art. She first delved into mural painting in her own youth, and is excited to share that knowledge and experience with younger generations in the future. 

This Feature was originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.


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Sheree McLeod