The Sunday Magazine

Sterling silver teapots, digital photos and wood carvings as Inuit art?

A new exhibition highlights the art and craft of the world's most southerly Inuit community, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. The exhibition upends stereotypes of what constitutes Inuit art. Michael speaks to Heather Igloliorte, who is the curator of the exhibition, and the author of a book about it. She is a professor of Indigenous Art History at Concordia University in Montreal.
Chesley Flowers. The George River Herd (1996). Wood, antler. 121.92 x 121.92 cm. (The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, Memorial University Collection. Photo: Ned Pratt Photography)

The phrase "Inuit art" usually conjures up images such as soapstone sculptures of seals and bears, carved whale bone or antler, or perhaps the Baker Lake prints.

SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut, a new book by Heather Igloliorte, upends those stereotypes. 

It features digital photographs, wood carvings and even a sterling silver tea pot.

The book is about the art and craft of Nunatsiavut, the world's most southerly Inuit community, in Labrador.

"Labrador Inuit don't have the same kind of recognition as Inuit from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Nunavik."- Heather Igloliorte

Born and raised in Nunatsiavut, Igloliorte has dedicated her professional life to promoting the art of the region, both as a curator and a teacher. She is Assistant Professor and Research Chair in Indigenous Art History at Concordia University in Montreal.

In our communities, craft is actually held in a higher esteem than art production, because it contains all of [the] intergenerational knowledge passed down from elders to children and grandchildren.- Heather Igloliorte
Heather Igloliorte (Lisa Graves/Concordia University)
Igloliorte's book is a companion for an art exhibition she curated for The Rooms in St. John's. 

This summer, it will open at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia before it travels to other venues across Canada, including the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Click 'listen above to hear the full interview with Michael.

Find about more about Heather Igloliorte's work on her website. Below is a photo gallery with selections from her exhibit: