The Inuit Art Foundation (IAF) is thrilled to announce that Ningiukulu Teevee has won the 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award (KAMA), a biennial prize that celebrates and supports Inuit artists by facilitating opportunities for artistic development and career growth.
Based in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, the self-taught graphic artist was named winner of the $20,000 prize at a ceremony held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq on September 22, coinciding with the opening of Gasoline Rainbows, the solo show of 2021 KAMA winner, multidisciplinary artist Tarralik Duffy. Dr. Heather Igloliorte, President of the Inuit Art Foundation Board of Directors, and Alysa Procida, Inuit Art Foundation Executive Director, co-presented the ceremony, with remarks from Dr. Stephen Borys, WAQ-Qaumajuq Director and CEO, and Rony Gravelines, Royal Bank of Canada Region Director for the North of 60 Division. The event was opened by WAG Board Member and throat singer Nikki Komaksiutiksak, who also performed alongside her daughter, Chasity Swan.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s really still sinking in—I think it's going to take time,” Teevee told the IAQ just prior to the ceremony. “It’s an honour to have been chosen.”
Teevee is highly regarded as a skillful storyteller, celebrated for her playful drawings and prints that reimagine traditional stories with contemporary flair. Her work has appeared in more than 40 global exhibitions, including 10 solo shows, and has been featured in every annual Cape Dorset Print Collection since 2004. Her debut 2009 children’s book, Alego, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s illustration.
“Teevee has been producing storied, thoughtful, humorous and insightful works of art for nearly two decades, and for her many contributions to the graphic arts she richly deserves this recognition,” says Dr. Igloliorte. “She is an artist-storyteller of the highest caliber whose evocative prints and drawings have the power to transport viewers to familiar spaces and scenes in the North, whether she is picturing a pot of soup bubbling on the stove, or Inuit playing traditional games in the local gym.”
Heather Campbell, Strategic Initiatives Director at the IAF, appreciates Teevee’s unique sense of composition. “Her use of pattern and line and how all of those elements come together is what makes her work so special,” says Campbell. “There is meaning behind it, but there's also beauty and other elements working together to create impactful images that invite your eye to move across the page.”
Ningiukulu Teevee Aiviq Tungujuqtaq (Blue Walrus) (2010) Printmaker Qiatsuq Niviaqsi Stonecut and stencil 62 x 76.4 cmREPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION DORSET FINE ARTS © THE ARTIST
Teevee was nominated for the award by Georgiana Uhlyarik, the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, and co-lead of the Department of Indigenous and Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, ON. Uhlyarik recalls first seeing Teevee’s popular drawing, Aiviq Tungujuqtaq (Blue Walrus) (2010), on the cover of the Inuit Art Quarterly’s Winter 2014 issue. An exhibition of Teevee’s work, Ningiukulu Teevee: Chronicles from the Curious, ran at the AGO earlier this year from January 14–May 11.
“[Teevee] has such a distinctive drawing style and she often revisits certain subjects and things she's really interested in, like walruses and owls, so when you see them they are so absolutely her,” Uhlyarik told the IAQ in July.
Uhlyarik also commends Teevee for the fulsomeness of her imagery. “There is so much in each one of Ning’s images. With very few lines or colours, or even shapes, she captures a whole world or event in an immediate way,” observes Uhlyarik. “She always puts in something that another Inuk can recognize and they know that it is for them. You are attracted by her striking images and composition, but then the more time you spend with each work, you realize that she's also giving you this narrative.”
Igloliorte echoes in her praise: “Her vividly patterned and textured animal and human portraits are particularly sublime, especially when depicting mischievous transformations between human and animal forms on the nuna.”
Established by the IAF in 2014 by a group of committed Inuit art supporters, the Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award honours the life and legacy of Kenojuak Ashevak, CC, ON, RCA, and her incredible influence on generations of Inuit artists.
“This award is important because it honours my anitsakuluk—that’s an endearment I called Kenojuak, because our namesakes were cousins—by keeping her memory alive in the community and the world,” Teevee told the IAQ earlier this year.
In addition to the $20,000 prize money, Teevee will receive a solo exhibition, catalogue and residency thanks to support from RBC Emerging Artists. WAG-Qaumajuq will also acquire one of Teevee’s works into its permanent collection, with a solo exhibition scheduled for fall 2025 to coincide with the announcement of the next KAMA cycle.
“Ningiukulu Teevee is a phenomenal graphic artist who is very deserving of the 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award,” says WAG-Qaumajuq Director and CEO Dr. Stephen Borys. “WAG-Qaumajuq has been a long-time supporter of Teevee and we’re excited to welcome her to the gallery and continue that support.”
This year marked a significant milestone for KAMA, with the creation of the award’s first 10-artist longlist. Nine other nominees, representing a variety of media and creative approaches, joined Teevee on the list: Manasie Akpaliapik, Deantha Edmunds, Billy Gauthier, Glenn Gear, Maureen Gruben, Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona, Kablusiak, Gloria Inugaq Putumiraqtuq and Couzyn van Heuvelen. Each received $2,500 and was featured in a limited-edition, archival-quality catalogue distributed with the Spring 2023 IAQ.
Announced in May, each of the five shortlisted finalists—Gauthier, Gruben, Kabloona, Kablusiak and Teevee—received an additional $5,000 and were invited to take part in a group exhibition at the WAG-Qaumajuq, Anaanatta Unikkaangit (Our Mother’s Stories), curated by Marie-Anne Redhead, the gallery’s Assistant Curator of Indigenous and Contemporary Art. The show runs until November 12.
This expansion to KAMA’s award program is due to the support of donors and RBC Emerging Artists, as well as programming partner WAG-Qaumajuq. Support from RBC Emerging Artists for the 2023 award cycle led to the creation of the longlist and the accompanying catalogue, as well as the shortlist exhibition and increased financial support for all the artists recognized.
“We at RBC couldn’t be more honoured to enhance the KAMA award program to benefit and bring profile to more Inuit artists,” says Kim Ulmer, RBC Regional President, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Western Ontario. “Ningiukulu Teevee’s bold and joyful work brings delight and curiosity to all who have a chance to engage with her art. We can’t wait to see her work advance and evolve, and look forward to her impact and contributions to WAG-Qaumajuq and beyond.”
The winner and finalists were selected by an all-Inuit jury comprising painter and sculptor Logan Ruben, artist and curator Jocelyn Piirainen, who currently holds the position of Associate Curator of Indigenous Ways and Decolonization at the National Gallery of Canada, and Tarralik Duffy as the 2021 KAMA winner.
Following her KAMA win in 2021, Duffy has been involved in a host of new projects and exhibitions, including this summer’s residency at the WAG as part of her 2021 winnings. Gasoline Rainbows features new works from the Salliq, NU, artist following her residency, pieces that reinterpret iconic everyday objects of northern living through a Pop Art–inspired, Inuk-first lens.
"Not many artists make me wish I had come up with an idea,” says Duffy about Teevee’s work “I’m very happy with the inspirations that come to me but Ningiukulu makes me stop in total covetous wonder; her work is unlike anyone else’s and I often marvel at her brilliance and humour.”
A panel discussion featuring Teevee, Duffy and the inaugural 2018 KAMA winner, Iqaluit, NU–based artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, will be scheduled for later this fall.
Read more about Ningiukulu Teevee
Read more about KAMA
The Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award is made possible through the support of individual donors and RBC Emerging Artists.