Nivin­nga­ju­li­aat from Baker Lake

Win­nipeg Art Gallery

Inuit Art Quarterly - - HIGHLIGHTS - – Krista Ulu­juk Zawad­ski

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

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