Stephanie Comer and Rob Craigie
Our first piece was a wall hanging by Naomi Ityi, given to us by Stephanie’s father for our wedding in 1998. He had been travelling in the Arctic by floatplane and would buy art in the communities. A few years later, in 2001, we did the Northwest Passage by boat with him, visiting Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven), Iqaluktuuttiaq (Cambridge Bay) and Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). It was really on that trip that we became hooked. Our collection has been built around works that document the abrupt and extreme changes in the way of life in the North, from artists such as Parr to Annie Pootoogook and Jutai Toonoo. We never imagined it would grow to what it’s become. Our website, Expanding Inuit, came together in large part out of wanting to get organized. It also reflects how much of this work came to be in our collection, as most of it was curated online and selected through photographs and email. Most importantly though, we feel the website allows us to be better stewards for the work and to share it. The thing that’s been amazing is how much of a community there is around Inuit art. A lot of the collectors we’ve met along the way have been really open to sharing their knowledge, and the dealers have been incredible to work with—you can really trust them, and they are great educators. We really can’t emphasize that enough; they have been hugely influential.
03 Naomi Ityi Untitled late 1990s Wool, felt and embroidery thread 73.7 × 96.5 cm COURTESY EXPANDING INUIT