From the burnt remnants of a high school in Cape Dorset, these young artists are creating hope
Nunavut collective Embassy of Imagination are using art to make change in their community
The moniker "Embassy of Imagination" calls up an organized set of creative thinkers, and that's exactly what this group of young people from Nunavut is. The collective, led by PA System's Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson, is made up of youth from Cape Dorset, Nunavut who are turning their dreams into large-scale art and change for their community.
They've painted huge murals on the sides of buildings, and for their most recent project at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Embassy went smaller. Their installation at the AGO's exhibition "Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood" includes small sculptures of snowmobiles, each one different from the other and each embodying the vision of the artists who made them (including Christine Adamie, Moe Kelly, David Pudlat, Nathan Adla and Lachaolasie Akesuk). And the sculptures went a long way to become what they are: they originated in a tragedy, the fire in Cape Dorset that burned down a local high school. From what remained on the site, the artists collected copper and aluminum that was eventually transformed into the snowmobiles in their installation.
The snow machines are particularly magical because they represent what the sale of the sculptures can bring the youth of Cape Dorset: a program where elders can take them out on full-sized snowmobiles to gain knowledge and skills important to their own growth. As Hatanaka says: "It's really an important exercise for the youth to think about how it is that they could actually be creative and use art to solve real problems and make change in their community."
Note: the murals you'll see in this video are Piliriqatigiingniq by Lachaolasie Akesuk, Parr Josephee, Aoudi Qunnayuaq, Cie Taqiasuk, Julieta Arias and Moises Frank, an Embassy of Imagination project with Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association and Mural Routes, 76 Church Street, Toronto, 2015; and Tunnganarniq by Harry Josephee, Kevin Qimirpik, Janice Qimirpik, Parr Josephee and Christine Adamie, an Embassy of Imagination project with Ottawa School of Art, 87 George Street, Ottawa, 2017.
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