Arts·Gallery Tour

Get an inside look at 3 works from INUA at Qaumajuq, the world's largest collection of Inuit art

asinnajaq, co-curator of the inaugural exhibition INUA, walks us through three pieces that are particularly meaningful to her.

INUA exhibition co-curator asinnajaq walks us through three pieces that are particularly meaningful to her

Get an inside look at 3 works from Qaumajuq, the world's largest collection of Inuit art

CBC Arts

30 days ago
4:37
asinnajaq, co-curator of the inaugural exhibition INUA, walks us through three pieces that are particularly meaningful to her. 4:37

In our series Scenes from an Exhibition, Canada's top curators showcase some of their favourite works from exhibitions that were closed off to the public due to COVID-19.

Qaumajuq opened on March 27th at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), and with its 40,000 square feet of space enclosed in scalloped white stone, it's a jaw-dropping sculpture of an art centre. And the exterior is only the shell of what's inside. This brand new building dedicated to Inuit art and culture houses the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.

Quamajuq's inaugural exhibition, INUA, takes up the third floor main gallery space (named the Qilak gallery) and is a stunning show to open the centre. According to the WAG's website, INUA means spirit or life force in several dialects across the Arctic, and also is an acronym for Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut or "Inuit Moving Forward Together." The exhibition, curated by Dr. Heather Igloliorte, asinnajaq, Kablusiak, and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, shares the work of over 90 Inuit artists, as well as work by circumpolar Indigenous artists. 

Maureen Gruben. Inuvialuit (b. 1963 Tuktuyaaqtuuq). "Waiting for the Shaman", 2017. Bones from polar bear paws and resin. 55.9 × 55.9 × 2.5 cm. (Photo by Kyra Kordowski)

The WAG is currently open to the public (with safety measures), so for anyone who can safely visit Qaumajuq and INUA before the exhibition closes on December 21st, this groundbreaking exhibition (and building!) are a must-see. 

But for those who aren't able to visit at the moment, filmmaker, visual artist and INUA co-curator asinnajaq is here to share three pieces in the exhibition that are particularly meaningful to her.

"Woman Adopts a Caterpillar" and "To the Church in Kuujjuarapik"

Artist: Elisapi Uppatitsiaq Inukpuk

"Woman Adopts a Caterpillar" and "To the Church in Kuujjuarapik" by Elisapi Uppatitsiaq Inukpuk. (Courtesy of the Winnipeg Art Gallery)

One of the pieces I'd like to tell you about is by Elisapi Inukpuk, who is my great-aunt. She is a doll-maker. Once we unboxed them and installed them, I felt really cozy and grounded. To me, those pieces by her are really special. She made them explicitly to tell stories to children.

That opening room in the exhibition where these artworks are, it's meant to be a space of grounding. We have these pieces which are our ancestor works. Me and my co-curators, Heather Igloliorte, Kablusiak and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, we each have a work that's from a family member, which is a way to kind of be honest and to name ourselves and where we come from so that as you go into the rest of the exhibition, you're knowing whose eyes you're looking through. 

"Birds" 

Artist: Mary Yuusipik Singaqti

"Birds" by Mary Yuusipik Singaqti. (Courtesy of the Winnipeg Art Gallery)

We got the idea to do a salon-style hang of wall hangings because we have so many wall hangings that we were able to pick artworks from and because we have some massive walls. So it was just an amazing opportunity. 

So another piece I want to talk to you about is this work by Mary Yuusipik Singaqti. This wall hanging is really fun. It's just really joyful and shows how artists can have fun and be a bit imaginative with their work. 

"My Little Corner of Canada"

Artist: Zacharias Kunuk

"My Little Corner of Canada" installation by Zacharias Kunuk and Isuma Team. Produced by Nunavut Independent Television Network. Commissioned with funds from the Mauro Family Foundation. (Courtesy of the Winnipeg Art Gallery)

This is one of the works that was made specially for the opening of Qaumajuq. It's a four-channel video installation which is installed inside a kind of replica of Zach's cabin.

Still detail from “My Little Corner of Canada”, 2020, by Zacharias Kunuk and Isuma Team Produced by Nunavut Independent Television Network. Four-channel video installation. Collection of the artist. Commissioned with funds from the Mauro Family Foundation. (Courtesy of the Winnipeg Art Gallery)

The people that are in the video are youth and elders, and they're talking to each other; they're exchanging knowledge and having a snack. And it's really just slow but grounding and tender. At the same time, that will happen on one screen and then maybe on the opposite screen all of a sudden it's a NIRB (Nunavut Impact Review Board) hearing, so people who want to extract resources from our land, they're talking. And it's a really thoughtful way, I think, to have this conversation and show what's at stake, really, and whose voices are being heard at these hearings and who's being listened to. And it's really unfortunate that we can't get everyone in to see it right now. 

See more Scenes from an Exhibition.

Qaumajuq, the Inuit art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (Photo by Lindsay Reid.)

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