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Our Land, Our Art – Musée canadien de la nature

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New exhibition reveals the beauty of Nunavik inspired by the collections of Avataq Cultural Institute

Ottawa, December 1, 2022— A new exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Nature reveals perspectives on Quebec’s Nunavik region through the works of Inuit artists—each inspired by their deep connection to nature and their home communities.

Our Land, Our Art was developed by the Avataq Cultural Institute, based in Inukjuak, Nunavik, and in Montreal, with the support of the museum. It opens to the public on December 2, 2022 and will remain on view until October 2024.

“We are honoured to present this latest exhibition in our Northern Voices Gallery, a space curated by northern communities that is dedicated to their art, culture and relationship to the land,” says Dr. Danika Goosney, museum President and CEO. “We look forward to sharing the rich heritage of Nunavik through the perspectives of the artists who were inspired by the Avataq Cultural Institute’s collections.”

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Presented in English, French and Inuktitut, Our Land, Our Art features original and varied forms of artworks, including photography, visual art, performance art, and throat singing. Each piece or installation reveals the artist’s strong relationship to the land.

Rhoda Kokiapik, Avataq Cultural Institute’s Executive Director, says: “This exhibition is an unprecedented opportunity for us to reach Canadian and international visitors at the Canadian Museum of Nature through this special project that shows the talent of our artists. Our relationship with the land is central to their creative process and it is something we can all relate to.”

The artists are Qumaq M. Iyaituk and Passa Mangiuk (drawings); Lucasi Kiatainaq (photography and video); Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik (throat singing); Taqralik Partridge (beadwork and visual art) and Tupiq A.C.T. (circus performers).

Qumaq M. Iyaituk and her sister, Passa Mangiuk, grew up in Ivujivik, and are inspired by the themes of family, community, and the land. Their three drawings depict a motorized canoe and a qamutiq (dog sled), which have traditionally been important means of transportation.

Photographs and a video (That Spring feeling) by Lucasi Kiatainaq from Kangiqsujuaq reveal moments in Inuit life. Inspired by Nunavik’s land and animals, Lucasi has spent many hours camping and hunting with his father, learning from his wealth of experience, and deepening his connection with nature.

Artwork by Taqralik Partridge, a visual and spoken-word artist from Kuujjuaq who now lives in Ottawa, features a large beaded amautik (woman’s parka). Inspired by themes of the environment and ancestral connections to the land, her work addresses life in the North as well as in southern urban centres.

In a special tupiq (tent) installation, a video introduces Nunavik’s first professional circus troupe: Tupiq A.C.T. Created in 2018, the troupe has members from across Nunavik, as well as the Greater Montreal Area. Their circus creations are inspired by oral stories from their ancestors, the land, and the language. The creation in Our Land, Our Art is inspired by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

An installation featuring throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik honours women and their connection to the land. By standing within two hanging felt pods, visitors can enjoy the unique sounds of the duo’s throat singing. Embroidered on the felt are traditional tattoo patterns, or tunniit, designed by Evie. The two women have performed together for many years, contributing to the revitalization of the Nunavik style of katajjaniq (throat singing).

The exhibition also features 32 traditional objects, artworks, and artifacts from the Avataq Cultural Institute’s collections, which provided inspiration to the artists.

Among them are artifacts that were used by Early Inuit 800 to 350 years ago: a pana (snow-knife blade) and panak (knife handle), both made of walrus ivory; a cooking pot called an ukkusik, a qulliq (oil lamp) made of soapstone, and a wooden figure possibly used as a doll. Dating back 350 to 50 years ago is a selection of Inuit objects, such as igaak (snow goggles), a nariarsaq (fishing lure), an ajaqaq game of skill using a wooden rod and seal bone (similar to a cup-and-ball game), as well as contemporary carvings.

Our Land, Our Art will be on view until October 2024 and is included with museum admission. The Northern Voices Gallery is located within the museum’s Canada Goose Arctic Gallery. The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod St., Ottawa. (at Metcalfe St.). Visit the Museum at nature.ca and follow it on these social media channels: Twitter.com/museumofnature, Instagram.com/museumofnature, facebook.com/canadianmuseumofnature and LinkedIn.

Interesting facts:

  • More than12,000 Inuit live in Nunavik—60% of whom are younger than 30. Inuktitut is the main language spoken.
  • Nunavik includes 14 villages along the coasts of northern Quebec. The region covers 507 000 sq. km and accounts for a third of Quebec’s total area.
  • Ancestors of today’s Inuit, the Early Inuit (also called Thule Inuit), migrated to the Eastern Arctic around 800 years ago. Their culture emerged in the Bering Strait region of Alaska.
  • Early Inuit were specialized in hunting large whales. They travelled across long distances by umiaq (large skin boat), qajaq (kayak) and qamutik (dog sled).
  • In summer, Early Inuit lived in tupiit (skin tents) and in winter, qarmait (semi-subterranean sod houses) or igluit (snow houses).
  • Katajjaniq is the Nunavik style of throat singing. An old Inuit tradition, throat singing is mostly a women’s practice. It often refers to familiar sounds (from animals, nature elements, or women’s tools) that provide a connection to the land.

About Avataq Cultural Institute
Avataq Cultural Institute provides a strong foundation for the living culture of today’s Inuit. Since its inception in 1980, Avataq has built a solid reputation as the cultural leader for Nunavik Inuit and as an important resource for Inuit culture in Canada and beyond. Our goal is to ensure that Inuit culture and language continue to thrive into the future, so that our descendants can benefit from the rich heritage passed down to us through the wisdom of our ancestors.


About the Canadian Museum of Nature

Saving the world through evidence, knowledge and inspiration! The Canadian Museum of Nature provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature’s past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a collection of 14.6 million specimens and artifacts, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca.


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