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News Roundup: Jessie Oonark Textile Breaks Auction Record

Jun 29, 2023
by IAQ

Solomon Awa wins Indigenous Voices Award. On June 21, Igulik, NU, author Solomon Awa received the Indigenous Voices Award for best published work in an Indigenous language for the 2022 Inuktitut version of his 2016 children’s book, Animals Illustrated: Narwhal (Inhabit Media), featuring art by Hwei Lim. The jury said, “Aficionados of graphic stories will find a good lesson on arctic ecology that is way bigger than this pamphlet.”

Established in 2017, the Indigenous Voices Awards support the work of Indigenous writers in lands claimed by Canada. This year, Ashley Qilavaq-Savard was also shortlisted for the Poetry in English prize for her collection, Where the Sea Kuniks the Land (Inhabit). Two Inuit artists also received nods in the category for published graphic novels, comics and illustrated books: artist Raeann Brown for her children’s book, Bedtime in Nunatsiavut (Arsenal Pulp Press), and Babah Kalluk for her kids’ title, Niitu and Chips (Inhabit).

Myrna Pokiak designs Canadian Mint commemorative coin. Multidisciplinary artist and designer Myrna Pokiak (Agnaviak) was one of three artists selected to collaboratively design a new coin marking National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. Pokiak—originally from Tuktuyaaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, and who currently resides in Yellowknife, NT—wove together her inukshuk design with elements contributed by artists Megan Currie, from English River First Nation, and Red River Métis Jennine Krauchi. 

This is the second time that Pokiak has designed a coin for the Mint. In 2020, her artwork appeared on a coin celebrating 150 years of the Northwest Territories.

Jessie Oonark tapestry sets new record at First Acts auction in Toronto, ON. On June 12, First Arts’ eighth live auction of Inuit and Indigenous art set 17 new records. One of the top sales was for Untitled (Composition with Skidoos and Ulus), an early 1970s textile work by renowned Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake) artist Jessie Oonark (1906–1985), which sold for $168,000, breaking First Arts’ previous record for the artist’s work. Other highlights include a 2007 oilstick self-portrait by Jutai Toonoo (1959–2015), which sold for $15,600, and an untitled textile work from 2004 by Annie Taipanak, which sold for $24,000, at more than twice its estimate.

New Zacharias Kunuk drama receives Telefilm funding. As part of its ongoing commitment to Indigenous filmmaking, Telefilm Canada announced on June 12 it is supporting six forthcoming projects through its Indigenous Funding stream. Among the projects is the Kingulliit Productions (formerly Igloolik Isuma Productions) drama Uiksaringitara (Wrong Husband), directed by Zacharias Kunuk, OC, ON, who co-wrote the screenplay with Samuel Cohn-Cousineau and Carol Kunnuk. Telefilm commits $4 million annually to Indigenous film creators, with additional funding allocated to its Talent to Watch and Development programs.

Maata Kyak named Nunavut Sivuniksavut Executive Director. On June 5, it was announced that fashion designer and artist Maata (Martha) Kyak has been appointed Executive Director at Nunavut Sivuniksavut college in Ottawa, ON. Kyak, who is the creative mind behind the label Inuk Chic, began her educator career as a supply teacher in her home of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), NU, before taking a position at the college, which offers programs in throat singing and drum making, among others. “We’re meeting as a staff to see what things work and what hasn’t worked, and see how we can improve our school and make it even better and stronger,” said Kyak in an interview with Canadian Press. “As Inuit, we really want to see the younger generation rise up and be proud of who they are, and to do whatever they want to do in life.”

Theresie Tungilik becomes first Inuk to serve as CARFAC National President. On May 28, Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, artist and arts advocate Theresie Tungilik was named the new National President and Spokesperson of Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC). Since 2003, Tungilik has been an advisor for the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Arts & Traditional Economy. In 2021 she was appointed to the board of the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq and serves on Qaumajuq’s Indigenous Advisory Committee.

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