• Feature

Your Guide to Inuit Art in 2023

Jan 16, 2023
by IAQ

Like the rest of the world, we're easing into 2023 nice and slow! There is already a lot of Inuit art to look forward to in 2023. Save these dates in that beautiful blank yearly planner and resolve not to miss a thing. 

From left: Carnation (2021), Tarralik Duffy, Weird Trees (n.d.)

From left: Carnation (2021), Tarralik Duffy, Weird Trees (n.d.) Courtesy Tarralik Duffy © the artist

The 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award

This year is sure to bring many exciting opportunities for Inuit artists and we’re looking forward to seeing all that’s in store. That said, the third biennial Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award is at the very top of our list (we’re biased—but who wouldn’t be?). Why you might ask? This year the program has grown to support the careers of 10 deserving and talented Inuit artists. This is on top of a partnership between the Inuit Art Foundation and the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq established in 2021 that provides the winner with a solo exhibition, catalogue and a creative residency at the institution, in addition to a $20,000 cash prize. Longlist and shortlist announcements will be made over the coming months (watch this space!) while the 2023 winner will be announced at a live event at WAG-Qaumajuq later this year. As the winner of KAMA 2021, Tarralik Duffy will have her first solo exhibition at WAG-Qaumajuq in September 2023. 


Ningiukulu Teevee Shaman Revealed (2007) Colour lithograph on paper 51.5 x 46 cm Courtesy Dorset Fine Arts © the artist

Books By and About Inuit Artists

The exhibition Arctic/Amazon: Networks of Global Indigeneity at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, ON, closed on December 31, but this fantastic show will live on in print. Edited by lead curator Gerald McMaster, Arctic/Amazon the book (Goose Lane Editions, March) will include essays by 12 Indigenous artists, curators, and knowledge-keepers about how artists integrate spirituality, traditional knowledges and political critique into their practices. 

A second title co-published by Goose Lane with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Moving the Museum: Indigenous + Canadian Art at the AGO documents the reopening of the gallery’s J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art. To be released on January 17, the book includes a chapter penned by Anishinaabe-kwe curator Wanda Nanibush on how the AGO is changing its approach to displaying Inuit art and sculpture. 

This year will also see a couple of books by IAQ contributors on shelves. INUA co-curator and PhD candidate Krista Ulujuk Zawadski is co-authoring, with Frank James Tester, Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Inuit Relocations, Resilience and Reconciliation (Formac Lorimer Books, March.) For younger readers, IAQ translator Jeela Palluq-Cloutier’s English and Inuktut–language picture book Mahahaa (June, Inhabit Media) is about a young girl who encounters the dark land spirit Mahahaa the Tickler. The book is accompanied by graphically styled illustrations from Inuk artist Babah Kalluk.

Ningiukulu Teevee, Shaman Revealed
Ningiukulu Teevee Shaman Revealed (2007) Colour lithograph on paper 51.5 x 46 cm Courtesy Dorset Fine Arts © the artist
Inuit Art Exhibitions

The AGO kicks off January with shows by graphic artist Ningiukulu Teevee and sculptor David Ruben Piqtoukun, both running until June 25. Teevee’s bold use of colour in her drawings and prints of abstracted animals is explored in Chronicles for the Curious. Radical Remembrances: The Sculptures of David Ruben Piqtoukun highlights the artist’s penchant for narrative storytelling through sculpture.

The month ends with Drawing on Our History, running January 29–April 16 at Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa, ON. Featuring work from Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona and Kablusiak, the curatorial team, including Dr. Heather Igloliorte, President of the Inuit Art Foundation Board, invited Canadian artists to sit in conversation with works from the university’s collection.

Kicking off April is Inuit Sanaugangit, which runs until January 7, 2024, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG). The survey of Inuit artistic expression covers prehistoric periods of creativity to the present day with more than 200 works produced by artists from Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland.

Passers-by can get up close to Robert Kautuk’s stunning aerial photography at OCAD University’s Onsite Gallery in downtown Toronto. Kautuk’s 10-foot mural is scheduled as the next installation of Up Front, a series of commissioned murals by Inuit artists, co-presented with the IAF and curated by Ryan Rice. 

November brings the first retrospective of Nick Sikkuark’s work to the NGC. Running until March 24, 2024, Nick Sikkuark: Humour and Horror features the artist’s unique drawings and sculptures, which have earned him a dedicated following.

New Spaces for Inuit Artists to Thrive

The IAF’s Artist Services team has been busy creating groundbreaking initiatives to support Inuit artists’ careers! On January 23, the Kajungiqsaut Grants program will kick off. Co-developed in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts, the IAF’s pilot funding program will offer Inuit-specific grants and project opportunities.

Be part of history on January 30, when the IAF’s Developing Qanuqtuurniq: Artist Portal (DQAP) officially launches. Designed to reduce barriers for Inuit artists, some of the Portal’s many features include a searchable list of grant opportunities across Canada, workshop videos and ways to connect directly with other creators. 

The IAF’s Ilisarniq online workshop series debuted in 2022, bringing together creators for lively conversations and skill sharing. Co-presented with Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership, this year’s line-up includes events on building a career in the arts and creating digital work. Learn more about how other IAF initiatives can support your practice through workshops on applying to Kajungiqsaut grants, how to use the IAF’s new artist portal and building your IAQ Artist Profile. 

Want to stay connected and learn more about these exciting initiatives and other Inuit art happenings? Join the IAF’s newsletter mailing list! 

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