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Exhibit showcases Inuit artistry and printmaking

Swatches | February 1, 2024 | By:

Many of the graphic artworks honor Canadian plant and animal life.

The exhibition “ᖃᓪᓗᓈᖅᑕᐃᑦ ᓯᑯᓯᓛᕐᒥᑦ Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios,” at Glenbow at The Edison in Calgary, Alta., Canada, highlights a collection of graphic textiles created in the 1950s and 1960s by a group of native artists from Kinngait, Nunavut, Canada.

Originally designed for interior decor, the graphics depict traditional Inuit legends, stories and ways of life by various Kinngait artists, including Kenojuak Ashevak, Pitseolak Ashoona, Parr, and Pudlo Pudlat. The art highlights a period of social change in Canadian history that disrupted these traditions for the Inuit people, changing their relationship to the land.

The artists’ work is featured alongside interviews and oral histories from the Kinngait community and present-day Kinngait artists, including Johnny Pootoogook, Malaija Pootoogook, Ooloosie Salie and Ningiukulu Teevee. 

Fish and Shadows by Mary Samuellie Pudlat features various fish screen-printed on linen. Images: Glenbow

“‘ᖃᓪᓗᓈᖅᑕᐃᑦ ᓯᑯᓯᓛᕐᒥᑦ Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios’ shines a light on the story of this textile initiative, an under-researched facet of the history of Inuit art and represents a largely unknown and unattributed body of work for many of the early artists,” says Roxane Shaughnessy, senior curator of the Textile Museum of Canada. “The voices and work of contemporary artists from Kinngait and other parts of Nunavut open up conversations about the continued relevance of these early printed fabrics
and their place and importance in the history of Inuit cultural heritage.”

The exhibit was on display from Nov. 24, 2023, to March 3, 2024, at Glenbow at The Edison and was developed in partnership with the West Baffin Cooperative. In 2021, the exhibition received the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums.

West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative has operated Kinngait Studios, Canada’s oldest fine art workshop, for more than six decades. In addition to printmaking and drawing, the studio supports various initiatives, including a textile program in which the show’s work was realized.

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