Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Twelve large-scale wall hangings, known as nivinngajuliaaq in Inuktut, from the collections of the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) and the Government of Nunavut will take over the expansive Eckhardt Hall at the WAG this fall. The exhibition will highlight this unique art form that emerged from artists living and working in Qamani’tuaq (Baker Laker), NU, from the 1970s to 1990s. We hear from curator Krista Ulujuk Zawadski on her favourite pieces along with her fondness for the craft and skill behind each work:
I don’t know if it’s just something we do up North, but oftentimes when you see someone sewing the first thing you look at is their stitching. As a kid, I remember learning how to sew and worrying about showing my stitching to my sisters in case I got in trouble with my grandmother. I’m always excited to see these lines—all of the work that goes into every single stich. It meant something as they stitched it. This is a lot like beadwork, when you look closely and realize that every single bead was put there intentionally by someone.
One of the pieces in the exhibition that I love is Thirty Faces (1974) by Marion Tuu’luq, RCA (1910–2002) from the WAG collection. The colours, symmetry and the geometric shapes really catch my eye. Another piece that I am particularly excited about is an untitled work by Jessie Oonark, OC, RCA (1906–1985) from the early 1980s.
I want people to see the skillset these artists had, as wall hangings were not the only thing these women and men did. They learned to sew traditional clothing, techniques that we still use today, and transferred these skills into their artworks. As the ar t form of nivinngajuliaaq originated in Qamani’tuaq, I’m excited for people to see the skill and legacy of many of these nowpassed artists from this prolific community.
Marion Tuu’luq (1910–2002 Qamani’tuaq) Thirty Faces1974Wool felt, embroidery floss and thread on wool stroud141 × 124 cm