Curated by Leslie Boyd and Sandra Dyck: Presented in collaboration with the NAC’s Northern Scene.
02 April – 02 June 2013
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Kinngait Studios, located in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, is the oldest and most successful printmaking studio in Canadian history. It has operated continuously since 1959 and released over 2000 print editions. The 1950s saw James Houston’s establishment of the printmaking program at the same time as Inuit started leaving their outpost camps to settle permanently in Cape Dorset. Yet images of the community – its development, its residents, and its everyday life – have rarely featured in prints produced there.
Dorset Seen looks beyond the limited sphere of the limited edition print. Today, demand for drawings is on the rise. And the market’s decades-long preference for such “traditional” subjects as hunting and mythology is under challenge from the community’s artists, whose drawings and sculptures of the “new” North have been enthusiastically embraced by the globalized contemporary art world.
Dorset Seen looks at how Cape Dorset is seen through the eyes of its artists. It features 48 drawings and 22 sculptures by 20 artists whose works depict a diverse range of subjects. The artists tackle Christianity and colonialism, the HBC and the RCMP, family and sport, architecture and community development, technology and transport, alcoholism and suicide.
Although Dorset Seen takes the pulse of recent developments in the community’s art scene, it does not focus exclusively on the contemporary, nor does it equate earlier artists with some vague notion of “tradition.” Dorset’s artists have always been inspired by their everyday lives, regardless of aesthetic convention or market pressure.
It is now more than three decades since Pudlo Pudlat’s radical lithograph Aeroplane (1976) shocked an art world born and raised on the idea of North as pre-modern, exotic, and unchanging. Kananginak Pootoogook recently observed that “White culture is all documented, but this is not so with Inuit culture.” As the artists featured in Dorset Seen make clear, “Inuit culture,” at least in Cape Dorset, includes snowmobiles and Nintendo and priests and bicycles.
Dorset Seen is comprised entirely of loans from public institutions including the National Gallery of Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, from Dorset Fine Arts and Feheley Fine Arts, and from collectors including Dorset Fine Arts, Feheley Fine Arts, Appleton Family Collection, Christopher Bredt and Jamie Cameron, John Cook, John and Joyce Price, Andrew and Valerie Pringle, Sam and Esther Sarick, and Marnie Schreiber, as well as others who wish to remain anonymous.
The 20 artists featured are:
Kiugak Ashoona, Shuvinai Ashoona, Etidlooie Etidlooie, Isaci Etidloi, Qavavau Manumie, Ohotaq Mikkigak, Jamasie Pitseolak, Mark Pitseolak, Tim Pitsiulak, Annie Pootoogook, Itee Pootoogook, Kananginak Pootoogook, Napachie Pootoogook, Paulassie Pootoogook, Pudlo Pudlat, Kellypalik Qimirpik, Ningeokuluk Teevee, Jutai Toonoo, Samonie Toonoo, Ovilu Tunnillie