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It's lit: Qaumajuq's Winnipeg opening aims to illuminate through world's largest Inuit art collection –



The expansive lands and oceans of the far north feel a little closer to the Prairies as you round the corner of St. Mary Avenue and Memorial Boulevard in downtown Winnipeg.

A solid white wave of granite hangs above the glassed-in ground floor entrance of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new Inuit Art Centre, or Qaumajuq.

It’s set to open on March 27, nearly three years after shovels hit the ground, and media were given a virtual tour on Thursday.

A group of Indigenous language keepers came up with the name Qaumajuq last year. It translates to “it is bright, it is lit” in Inuktitut — an apt description of the natural light that fills the space.

The lead curator of the inaugural exhibit says it was important the space truly reflect the spirit of the 14,000 pieces within and the people who made them — a departure from the colonial presentations common in other galleries and museums.

“When Inuit enter the building, we want them to feel like this is a space for them, that the artwork [is] to be curated for them and that they are the intended audience of the work, and up until now that hasn’t necessarily been the case,” said Heather Igloliorte, one of four Inuk curators who put together the opening display, INUA.

Due to pandemic restrictions, celebration ceremonies in the days before the opening will be scaled down.

The vault of vaults

Fewer people will get a look on opening day, but those who do will enter a 40,000-square-foot space that houses the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.

One of the first things visitors will see is a huge glass vault that stretches four storeys, from the basement to the ceiling, and encases a range of sculptures, carvings, dolls, paintings and more. Peer past those works and see conservators and curators doing research on the other side.

The vault at Qaumajuq houses thousands of works from across the north that will be visible the moment you walk in. (Lindsay Reid)

Construction began in May 2018. The project cost about $65 million, half of which came from all levels of government. Private donors and businesses made up the rest.

“It’s a culmination of an incredible processs,” said said Michael Maltzan, who won an international competition to design the building.

Capturing ‘limitless quality’ of Arctic

The main floor has a cafe and access to a revamped shop.

The space includes an 85-seat theatre and small classroom that allows youth from Winnipeg to connect virtually with peers in Pangnirtung or other Nunavut communities.

Ilipvik, or Learning Steps inside Qaumajuq, is an 85-seat theatre that doubles as a classroom that will connect people in Winnipeg virtually with those in northern communities. (Lindsay Reid)

Studios, research and library archives for working artists take up part of the second floor, where a corridor connects to the rest of the WAG.

Elevators and stairs lead up to the third-floor gallery with the largest North American display dedicated to contemporary Indigenous art.

There, visitors enter a space with nine-metre high ceilings. Staffs of sunlight shine down through 22 skylights.

Qaumajuq opens March 27. (Lindsay Reid)

Qilak, the main gallery of Qaumajuq on the third floor, includes 22 skylights that let in natural light from above. (Lindsay Reid)

Maltzan’s vision took shape after a trip to the north with WAG executive director Stephen Borys.

He was inspired by the vastness of it all. He wanted the endless horizons and open sea to shine through, while making the space accessible, inviting and honouring northern cultures.

“I remember him turning to me and saying, ‘How do you capture that limitless quality?'” said Borys. “I think he’s done it … through light, through space, through form.”

Why Winnipeg?

The fluid forms contrast with the late-modernist angles of the WAG, built in 1971.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s sharp edges contrast with the fluid shapes of the exterior of Qaumajuq. (Lindsay Reid)

There’s another obvious contrast: why build this particular monument to Inuit art thousands of kilometres from the north?

“I think it’s a perfect place,” said Borys.

He points to the geographical relationship between people of the north and those in Winnipeg. Many from remote communities regularly visit and receive medical care in the city. Our histories are aligned, and that shows through in the fact that the WAG has been collecting Inuit art longer than any other institution, he said.

That history started in the 1950s. Vienna-born WAG director Ferdinand Eckhardt purchased three small soapstone carvings that became the first pieces of the collection, said Borys.

Among the first works of Inuit art obtained by the WAG was Pinnie Naktialuk’s carving, Mother Sewing Kamik, which was acquired in 1957. Director Dr. Ferdinand Eckhardt wanted it for the collection, so the Women’s Committee — now Associates of the WAG — fundraised to purchase it. (Supplied by Winnipeg Art Gallery)

Ferdinand bought them across the street at the Hudson’s Bay building, a historic concrete space that was shuttered last fall.

The Bay played a major role in colonization, and some experts have suggested repurposing and reopening that building with reconciliation in mind.

Situating Qaumajuq in Winnipeg presents a similar opportunity to respond to historic human rights violations of all Indigenous people, laid out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to actions, said Borys.

“There’s just exciting possibilities where we can push, advance the idea of the museum and culture using art in a way for understanding reconciliation,” said Borys.

The Skeletoned Caribou by William Noah, from Baker Lake in 1974, includes coloured pencil on paper. It’s part of the WAG collection that was acquired through a grant from Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas Company Limited. (Supplied by Winnipeg Art Gallery)

Julia Lafreniere, head of Indigenous initiatives at the WAG, says in the two days ahead of the March 27 opening, the public will have access to a virtual tour, and a ceremony filmed on Feb. 22.

Lafreniere said it isn’t ideal doing all this remotely.

But in time, the space will fill. Visitors will see carvings, sculptures and other items you could fit on a tabletop that are among the more widely recognizable forms of Inuit Art, along with a variety of newer works that push the limits of that convention.

Igloliorte expects the scale of the space will inspire a generation of Inuit artists to think big.

“The sky is the limit.”

The Winnipeg Art Gallery has a new wing dedicated to Inuit art, old and new. Qaumajuq, the Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, opens March 27. 2:07

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Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat



Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.

“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.

Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.

“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”

The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.

Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.

“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.

“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”

Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.

April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.

Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.

Rylie Trampleasure, Grade 2, has her work on display at Cariboo Art Beat. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Isabella Buchner

Isabella Buchner

Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune

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Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history



ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.

While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.

“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”

Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.

As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.

Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.

“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.

In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”

History and identity

One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.

“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”

Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.

In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”

It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”

A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.

“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”

What shapes us

St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.

“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”

With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”

“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.

As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.

Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.

“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.

Andrew Waterman reports on East Coast culture.
[email protected]
Twitter: @andrewlwaterman



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Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard



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Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!

On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.

For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.

Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.

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Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.

The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.

When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.

For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at

Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.

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