Il­lir­i­javut: Our val­ues that are pre­cious

JUNE 1–23, 2018 MON­TREAL, QC

Inuit Art Quarterly - - CONTENTS - by Kathryn De­laney with Qu­maq Mangiuk Iyaituk

Two cu­ra­tors re­flect on the ten-year ret­ro­spec­tive of works pro­duced dur­ing sto­ry­book-mak­ing and sto­ry­telling work­shops held across Nu­navik and beyond and the pow­er­ful ac­counts cap­tured in wa­ter­colour.

The ex­hi­bi­tion Il­lir­i­javut was a ten-year ret­ro­spec­tive of orig­i­nal Inuit graphic sto­ry­books cre­ated by artists from five dif­fer­ent Nu­navik com­mu­ni­ties: Ivu­jivik, Inukjuak, Sal­luit, Akulivik and Kangiq­su­juaq. The book­lets high­light ex­pe­ri­ences and stories shared by lo­cal elders dur­ing seven sto­ry­telling and sto­ry­book-mak­ing work­shops held over the last decade across Nu­navik, and which were led in Inuk­tut by Qu­maq Mangiuk Iyaituk and fa­cil­i­tated by my­self. Hail­ing from dis­tinct cul­tures while uni­fied by a shared spirit of col­lab­o­ra­tion, the ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plored what de­fines art­mak­ing and a liv­ing cul­ture through Inuit sto­ry­telling and creative sto­ry­book mak­ing.

The pro­ject be­gan dur­ing the 2009 An­nual Nu­navik Art Work­shops in Inukjuak, when I was hired to de­velop and teach a sto­ry­telling and sto­ry­book-mak­ing work­shop. As a non-Inuk­tut speaker, I was ea­ger to en­gage with some­one who was able to com­mu­ni­cate with the elders, like Mangiuk Iyaituk, who had signed up for the work­shop. This be­gan our ten-year artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tion. With our back­grounds in com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion, we were keenly aware of the need for qual­i­fied art in­struc­tion in Inuk­tut and ac­cess to pro­fes­sional art ma­te­rial in all 14 Nu­navik com­mu­ni­ties. We joined forces the fol­low­ing year to meet the chal­lenges faced by artists liv­ing in Nu­navik and agreed to build on each con­sec­u­tive work­shop. The method was simple: bring the art ma­te­ri­als and pro­vide in­struc­tion in Inuk­tut, and the par­tic­i­pants would come. “If you can draw a cir­cle, you can join us.” This is how we have de­signed these group work­shops ever since, as an open in­vi­ta­tion to any­one 16 and over in the com­mu­nity in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing the sub­ject.

In 2015 the work­shops were of­fered to non-Inuit and Inuit liv­ing in south­ern cities. The in­au­gu­ral south­ern work­shop was held in Mon­treal, QC, at the Vis­ual Arts Cen­tre, fol­lowed by work­shop events held in 2017 at the Na­tive Friend­ship Cen­ter of Mon­treal’s In­ter-Tribal Youth Cen­ter at Daw­son Col­lege

Each work, ren­dered in wa­ter­colour and ink, re­lays the strong per­son­al­i­ties of the in­di­vid­ual artists and the of­ten hu­mor­ous and pow­er­ful stories shared by elders.

dur­ing Indige­nous Days; the Uni­ver­sity of Ot­tawa’s Indige­nous Re­source Cen­tre with Nu­navut Sivu­niksavut stu­dents in Ot­tawa, ON; the Win­nipeg Art Gallery in Man­i­toba; and at the pres­ti­gious École na­tionale supérieure des beaux arts de Paris in France. Sculp­tor Mat­tiusi Iyaituk, a re­cent re­cip­i­ent of the Or­dre des arts et des let­tres de Québec from the Con­seil des arts et des let­tres du Québec and long-time pro­ject sup­porter, joined us in 2015 to act as an el­der sto­ry­teller for the south­ern work­shops.

The 32 sto­ry­books, crafted on pa­per by 19 in­di­vid­ual artists dur­ing these work­shops, formed the ba­sis of the ex­hi­bi­tion. As vis­i­tors en­tered the McClure Gallery in the Vis­ual Arts Cen­tre, they ex­pe­ri­enced these unique graphic works at eye level. The ob­jec­tive was to elim­i­nate any­thing non-es­sen­tial and keep the focus on the small, in­tri­cate works that stood folded into an ac­cor­dion-like de­sign. The sto­ry­books were dis­played on two simple Rus­sian pine-wood tables, sup­ported by zigzag bases. Ad­di­tional works were pre­sented in a se­ries of six wall­mounted shelves. Each work, ren­dered in wa­ter­colour and ink, re­lays the strong per­son­al­i­ties of the in­di­vid­ual artists and the of­ten hu­mor­ous and pow­er­ful stories shared by elders.

With an easy-go­ing style, Ivu­jivik-based Paula Ai­nalik’s sto­ry­book con­veys the joy of chil­dren at play in an anec­dote re­layed by Mangiuk Iyaituk about a Catholic pri­est who kept post­bags to or­ga­nize sack races dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son. Manu Qaun­naaluk, also from Ivu­jivik, il­lus­trated her book­let with de­tails that cap­ture a per­sonal story told by Mat­tiusi: Stuck af­ter their Ski-Doo broke down, Mat­tiusi, his older brother and a friend had to walk for miles to get home. When the friend even­tu­ally col­lapsed from ex­haus­tion, they built an igloo to stay in overnight. Hun­gry and tired, the party thought they saw a fox. Yet, it turned out to be only a mi­rage. For­tu­nately, they were found the next day and brought back to the com­mu­nity.

In­spired by Ivu­jivik el­der Si­asi Mangiuk’s ex­pe­ri­ence of her sun­glasses break­ing from the ex­treme cold while she and her mother were out check­ing her fa­ther’s fox trap, Passa Mangiuk im­bues the story with her unique sense of hu­mour and made vis­i­tors laugh out loud with her ex­pres­sive, play­ful wa­ter­colour draw­ings. A story by

Eva Saki­a­gaq Aud­laluk about her fam­ily go­ing camp­ing dur­ing bel­uga sea­son was the per­fect sub­ject for Sal­luit-based Louisa Pauyungie, whose draw­ings are of­ten in­tense and spon­ta­neous, with large fig­ures that em­pha­size their im­por­tance. Pauyungie de­picts a fam­ily at their tra­di­tional sum­mer hunt­ing camp with qa­jait (kayaks) made with seal­skins of dif­fer­ent tones.

What stands out in Akulivik-based

Louie Qungisiruk’s long graphic sto­ry­books are her vivid col­ors and her em­pha­sis on de­tails. Mar­vel­ling at her artis­tic abil­ity and in­ti­mate knowl­edge of her cul­ture, we are drawn in, page af­ter page—es­pe­cially in this dra­matic story, told by Alasie Nap­patuk Alaku, that cap­tures a fam­ily tragedy with ten­der­ness. Along­side this work, Kangiq­su­juaq-based Qial­lak Qu­maaluk used saturated colours to il­lus­trate the wal­rus blood and meat pre­pared and sewn for fer­men­ta­tion in In the Fall, Wal­rus Go Fur­ther North (2017).

A num­ber of the book­lets se­lected for the ex­hi­bi­tion were loaned from the Avataq

Cul­tural In­sti­tute, in­clud­ing one by Ivu­jivikbased jew­eller, carver and graphic artist Mary Paninga­jak, who used a fine-tip ink pen in a pointil­list style to pro­duce Just Walk­ing. . . (2011), a se­quence of images of an Inuk dressed in a parka. Five of the book­lets on dis­play were also pub­lished as a unique col­lec­tion of ex­hi­bi­tion cat­a­logues by the McClure Gallery in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Avataq and trans­lated in Inuk­tut, English and French. In one, Mangiuk Iyaituk rep­re­sents with sim­plic­ity, el­e­gance and beau­ti­ful tones a story that ex­plains why fish have no legs, based on a con­ver­sa­tion she had with her grand­son Wil­lie. In another, Inukjuak-based Sarah Lisa Ka­sud­luak care­fully trans­lated Nel­lie Nastapoka’s story of her brother’s metic­u­lous con­struc­tion of dresses into an il­lus­trated tale, fea­tur­ing vi­brant fig­ures in wa­ter­colour.

To com­pli­ment the rich imagery and shared his­to­ries in these book­lets, a sec­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion con­tained a sound­scape of Mangiuk Iyaituk giv­ing in­struc­tion in Inuk­tut from a work­shop in Kangiq­su­juaq in 2017, em­pha­siz­ing and cel­e­brat­ing the vi­tal­ity of Inuit oral tra­di­tion. Taken to­gether, Il­lir­i­javut is a strong ac­knowl­edge­ment of the em­pow­er­ment of in­di­vid­ual artists through com­mu­nity sto­ry­telling and the ca­pac­ity for self-ex­pres­sion through vis­ual art and lan­guage.

In­stal­la­tion view of Il­lir­i­javut: Our val­ues that are pre­ciousat McClure Gallery, Vis­ual Arts Cen­tre, Mon­treal, QC, 2018 PHOTO KATHRYN DE­LANEY

Pan­els fromLouie Qungisiruk’s Los­ing Fam­ily Mem­ber (2013)

BE­LOW Pan­els from Qu­maq Mangiuk Iyaituk’s Fish Have No Legs (2009)

RIGHT Pan­els from Sarah Lisa Ka­sud­luak’s My Dress (2017)

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