I first came across Saimaiyu Akesuk’s artwork while sifting through prints at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit museum in Iqaluit, NU. One in particular caught my eye: a bold, bright, magnified housefly.
With graphic black lines and blue and yellow colour blocking, Qaumajaq (Fly) is as endearing as the actual housefly is repellant. I later discovered her work with insects extended to bees and spiders, each more colourful than the next. I don’t like generalized statements, but I’m going to make one here: Inuit hate bugs. We hate flies, we hate bees, and we definitely hate spiders. Just the fact that Saimaiyu chose to create these gigantic and beautiful versions of our many-legged friends made me feel like she was telling a joke through her art.
I have Qaumajaq (Fly) hanging in my living room and Hot Spider (2015) in my office. These were the first pieces of “real art” I ever purchased. I am very excited to be working with Saimaiyu on an interactive gallery exhibit in partnership with the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba. Just like Saimaiyu, my work includes monsters and creatures that others might find repugnant. My monsters are a way for me to process the world and anxieties around me in a way that hopefully brings joy through horror. Saimaiyu’s pieces remind me of that, but also extend beyond the creepy crawly. Her birds and polar bears, striped and spotted, have the same magical whimsy I first fell in love with in this piece.