Couzyn van Heuvelen



Couzyn van Heuvelen is an Inuk sculptor and installation artist originally from Iqaluit, NU. Based in southern Ontario, van Heuvelen's artistic practice focuses on fusing Inuit art history and traditions with contemporary materials and technologies. Van Heuvelen's use of unconventional materials and fabrication processes, combined with elements of Inuit culture, mirrors his own process of exploring how traditional practices continue to influence his everyday life [1].

Van Heuvelen's series Nitsiit (2015-ongoing) features a variety of materials, from silver and brass to muskox horn and baleen, manipulated through various contemporary techniques. Laser-cut into the surface of Baleen Lure (2015) is a gold-tinted triangular pattern drawn from 3D scans of existing fishing lures transferred into a two-dimensional image. "The image etched into the surface resembles scrimshaw techniques," explains the artist, "as well as ancient examples of Inuit carvings that featured repeating geometric patterns." [2]

Alongside these more intimate works, van Heuvelen has created a number of public art installations such as aluminum qamutiik at the Southway Inn in Ottawa, ON, as part of the Lost Stories Project in September 2017 [3]. The sculpture commemorates the significance of the site as a waypoint for Inuit travelling from the Arctic for school, work and medical services. Additional public works include the permanent installation Nitsiit (2017) at Sheridan College's Hazel McCallion Campus in Mississauga, ON, and Nets (2018), exhibited in Fort Qu'Appelle, SK, as part of the project Roadside Attractions. In 2022, van Heuvelen installed massive 30-foot versions of his Avataq (2016-) sculptures as part of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, in three locations across the city. [4]

“I think my practice has to do with the types of objects that are significant to Inuit culture,” says van Heuvelen, “but it's more about what those objects say about Inuit culture—our past and our future, and what's going on right now.” [5]

In 2011, van Heuvelen received his BFA from York University in Toronto, ON, and his MFA from NSCAD University in Halifax, NS, in 2015. His work has been included in several group exhibitions across Canada, such as Insurgence/Resurgence (2018) at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the touring exhibition ᐊᕙᑖᓂᑦ ᑕᒪᐃᓐᓂᑦ ᓄᓇᑐᐃᓐᓇᓂᑦ  Among All These Tundras (2018–19), INUA (2021), Qaumajuq’s inaugural exhibition and Arctic/Amazon: Networks of Global Indigeneity (2022) at The Power Plant in Toronto, among others. In 2018, he was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award, and in 2021, he was shortlisted for the Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award. Van Heuvelen is currently represented by Fazakas Gallery in Vancouver, BC.

In February 2023 van Heuvelen was longlisted for the 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award.

This Profile was made possible through support from RBC Emerging Artists.

Artist Work

About Couzyn van Heuvelen


Installation, Sculpture

Artistic Community:

Bowmanville, ON

Date of Birth:

Artists may have multiple birth years listed as a result of when and where they were born. For example, an artist born in the early twentieth century in a camp outside of a community centre may not know/have known their exact date of birth and identified different years.


Edit History

September 12, 2017 Created by: Couzyn van Heuvelen Updated by: Inuit Art Foundation