Carleton University Art Gallery CUAG

“Truly Canadian”: Inuit Art and National Identity

Curated by Michelle Bauldic

14 November 2011 – 29 January 2012

Truly Canadian takes as its starting point a 1987 quotation by Virginia Watt in Inuit Art Quarterly: “If we discount hockey arenas and football and baseball stadia, Canadians are not ordinarily perceived as a passionate people, except, it appears, on the subject of Inuit art. Inuit art is ours; it is truly Canadian.” The exhibition explores how Inuit art has come to be perceived as “ours,” and how the Canadian government has utilized it as a means of articulating Canadian identity at home and abroad.

Since the 1950s, the government has officially supported, promoted, and marketed Inuit art in a variety of ways, including circulating travelling exhibitions, presenting gifts to foreign dignitaries, distributing special print portfolios, and disseminating images on stamps and coins. The exhibition will feature original prints and sculptures by such artists as Kenojuak Ashevak, Parr, Helen Kalvak, Pudlo Pudlat, Jessie Oonark and Kananginak Pootoogook, as well as the consumer products – stamps and coins – they inspired. It also presents special projects, such as a portfolio of Kenojuak Ashevak engravings released in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial.

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