On November 27, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) awarded Dr. Heather Igloliorte the RCA Medal. The RCA Medal is awarded annually in recognition of significant contributions by individuals in the field of arts and culture. The ceremony was held online via Zoom.
“I was surprised and very honoured to hear I would be receiving this medal, and I am so grateful to the members of the Royal Canadian Academy for the Arts for this recognition,” says Igloliorte of the win. “First, in a broad sense, I think it speaks to the appreciation of the impact that Inuit are having across all aspects of the arts today. The art world is taking notice of how we are collectively steering the conversation on, and direction of, our own artistic practices.
Secondly, for myself, it is very humbling to know that an organization made up of a community of artists all across the country has chosen to award this medal recognition of my service to (primarily) Inuit and other Indigenous artists. This medal encourages me and affirms the work I am doing as a mentor and supporter of Inuit artists and emerging arts professionals, both individually and through the Inuit Futures project. In that sense, it is a shared recognition with all the post-secondary students, mentors, institutions and others who have joined in partnership with IF in order to make more space for Inuit to lead in all aspects of the arts.”
Igloliorte is an Inuk scholar, independent curator and art historian from Nunatsiavut. She holds the Tier 1 University Research Chair in Circumpolar Indigenous Arts and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Concordia University in Montreal, QC. Her research centres on Inuit and circumpolar visual culture and art history in relation to issues of colonization, sovereignty and resurgence. In addition to her roles at Concordia, Igloliorte is Director of the Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership: The Pilimmaksarniq/Pijariuqsarniq Project, which aims to empower the next generation of Inuit leaders in all areas of the arts through hands-on training and mentorship.
She has been a curator for more than 15 years, with notable projects including SakKijajuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut, the first nationally touring exhibition of Inuit art from Nunatsiavut recognized with an Award of Outstanding Achievement from the Canadian Museums Association in 2017; and INUA (2021), the inaugural exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s centre for Inuit art, Qaumajuq, for which she was the lead on a team of all-Inuit curators.
Igloliorte is the current President of the Board of Directors at the Inuit Art Foundation. She has a longstanding relationship to the Inuit Art Quarterly, writing noteworthy features such as “Inuit Art is a Marker of Cultural Resilience” for the Spring/Summer 2010 issue (25.1-2) and “The Intertwined History of Politics and Art in Nunatsiavut” for the Nunatsiavut Special Issue (28.3-4), for which she was the first Inuk guest editor of the IAQ. Illiniaqtuit (students) from Igloliorte’s Inuit Futures project came together to create the Venice Special Issue (32.5) for the IAQ, the first issue edited and authored solely by Inuit, which included a Igloliorte’s Feature, “Indigenous Art on a Global Stage.”
The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts is an honorary organization founded in 1880, made up of more than 650 established professional artists and designers from all regions of Canada. Many Inuit artists have been inducted as members of the RCA, including Kenojuak Ashevak, CC, RCA, Helen Kalvak, OC, RCA, Michael Massie, CM, RCA, and Jessie Oonark, OC, RCA.