EXPLORING CAPE DORSET ART
Three exhibitions portray three generations of social change through traditional and contemporary Inuit art
IN MEMORY OF KENOJUAK ASHEVAK (1927-2013)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Whales' Tails and Other Tales: Cape Dorset's Pudlat Family
JANUARY 26 TO JUNE 16, 2013
Organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and guest-curated by Inuit art scholar and former McMichael curator Susan Gustavison
Kiugak Ashoona: Stories and Imaginings from Cape Dorset
FEBRUARY 2 TO JUNE 16, 2013
A national travelling exhibition organized by the Winnipeg Art Gallery and curated by Darlene Coward Wight
Where Do We Come From? What are We? Where are We Going?
Identity in Contemporary Cape Dorset Art
FEBRUARY 2 TO JUNE 16, 2013
Organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and curated by Sharona Adamowicz-Clements
Feb 1, 2013, KLEINBURG ON—The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is “Exploring Cape Dorset Art” with three distinct exhibitions this winter and spring that investigate the rich artistic community of Cape Dorset in Nunavut, and its prolific contribution to the documentation of Inuit life and traditions spanning over half a century. Between February 2 and June 16, 2013, visitors will be able to view two exhibitions organized by McMichael curators examining traditional and contemporary Inuit art, and an acclaimed travelling retrospective exhibition of Kiugak Ashoona organized by the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Inuit art scholar and former McMichael curator Susan Gustavison invites visitors on a journey that reflects the life of this community coming to terms with profound social changes from 1950 to the 1980s. Gustavison drew from the nearly 100,000 prints, drawings, and sculptures of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative collection on long-term loan to the McMichael to develop Whales’ Tails and Other Tales: Cape Dorset’s Pudlat Family. Five brothers—Pudlo, Oshutsiak, Samuellie, Simeonie Quppapik, and Joe Jaw— as well as Pudlo’s wife, Innukjuakju, have left an artistic legacy of thousands of drawings and hundreds of prints that reveal the history and daily life of the Inuit of this Baffin Island community.
The national travelling exhibition, Kiugak Ashoona: Stories and Imaginings from Cape Dorset, is curated by Darlene Coward Wight from the Winnipeg Art Gallery and is the artist’s first retrospective. Nearly fifty works on paper as well as sculptures highlight the artistic output of this leading first-generation artist who has had the longest career of any of the artists currently living in Cape Dorset. Wight’s investigation into Kiugak Ashoona’s drawings, most also from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative collection at the McMichael, contributes new information on their subject matter and brings much deserved recognition to one of the few remaining “Early Masters” in Inuit art.
Also opening on February 2 is an exhibition of contemporary works organized by McMichael curator Sharona Adamowicz-Clements, which introduces viewers to current trends in Inuit art-making. Inspired by Paul Gauguin’s masterpiece of the same title, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, this small and intimate exhibition explores identity within the Inuit world. It highlights the works of leading contemporary Cape Dorset artists, including Shuvinai Ashoona, the daughter of Inuit art master Kiugak Ashoona whose retrospective is also on display, and her cousin Annie Pootoogook, the renowned graphic artist who received the Sobey Art Award in 2006.
These new works depart from the representations of animal, spirit or human motifs set against empty space and white backgrounds that have come to exemplify Cape Dorset art since the 1950s when the Inuit were introduced to the graphic arts. Cape Dorset, or Kinngait in the Inuktitut language, is unique. Its main work force is connected to the arts industry, where art-making is the economic base of survival as well as the foundation for development and preservation of Inuit culture. Exploring Cape Dorset Art is a culmination of artistic development through first-, second-, and third-generation artists that demonstrates the rapid and tremendous changes that have occurred in this small art community in the Canadian Arctic.
West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative Limited and the Collection
The community-owned co-operatives in the Arctic are multi-purpose businesses that provide a wide range of services including retail stores, hotel and tourism operations, cable television, arts and craft marketing, fuel distribution, construction and heavy equipment services, property rental, and a variety of agency-type services.
Since 1959, the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op has earned an international reputation for the exquisite stonecut prints, etchings, and carvings of its Inuit artist-members. In 1960, Terry Ryan began at the co-op initially as a temporary arts advisor, and stayed for close to thirty years as the co-op’s general manager. Ryan worked vigorously to further the cause of Dorset printmaking and art, on a number of fronts: he sourced stone for carvings, developed a network of dealers across North America, including the Dorset Fine Arts marketing and distribution centre in Toronto; he managed the production of Cape Dorset's annual print catalogue, helped organize community visits on behalf of travelling artists to the north and of fine arts programs for the benefit of Cape Dorset printmakers, carvers, and other artists and craft makers. The arts and crafts sector of the West Baffin Co-operative remains a strong and vital segment of the local economy. 
The McMichael’s Inuit collection is a major public resource that attracts committed collectors and art-lovers, as well as thousands of students of Inuit art and culture to the gallery every year. Paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures created by a broad range of Inuit artists using many different materials are always on display. The gallery’s permanent collection is supplemented by the Cape Dorset archive—the long-term loan of some 100,000 drawings, prints, and sculptures from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative.
In Memory of Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013)
The McMichael’s presentation of Exploring Cape Dorset Art is dedicated to the memory of Kenojuak Ashevak who passed away on January 8, 2013. A small memorial exhibit is on display at the gallery to celebrate Kenojuak’s life and her extraordinary contribution to Canadian art. On February 16, a memorial talk will be held at the McMichael with Pat Feheley of Feheley Fine Arts, art critic and curator Sarah Milroy, and Terry Ryan, former general manager of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op and former director of Dorset Fine Arts, Toronto.
Kenojuak had a long history with the McMichael gallery that began in 1986, when she arrived for the opening of the first retrospective of her work, organized by the McMichael and curated by Jean Blodgett, and covering thirty years. Her drawings, prints and sculpture have been exhibited in group and solo shows at the gallery since that time. The West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative collection includes over 2,000 drawings and 300 prints by Kenojuak. In 2007, the gallery was honoured to celebrate Kenojuak’s 80th birthday while she was artist-in-residence. Her last visit to the McMichael was in 2009 with fellow Cape Dorset artists, Kananginak Pootoogook, Shuvinai Ashoona, and Ningeokuluk Teevee.
Alsop, Jennifer and Dr. Ian McPherson. History of Cape Dorset and the West Baffin Co-operative. University of Victoria, Canada. Accessed from: http://www.learningcentre.coop/resource/history-cape-dorset-and-west-baffin-co-operative#houston
Programs Inspired by Inuit and First Nations Artists
Saturday, February 2
Exclusive to Members! Curators Circle: Cape Dorset at the McMichael, Yesterday and Today. (Facilitated by Dr. Victoria Dickenson, McMichael Executive Director and CEO.)
Sunday, February 3
Opening celebration of Exploring Cape Dorset Art exhibitions
Saturday, February 16
Memorial talk for acclaimed Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013). Pat Feheley of Feheley Fine Arts will introduce art critic and curator Sarah Milroy and Terry Ryan, former general manager of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op and former director of Dorset Fine Arts, Toronto, to discuss Kenojuak’s remarkable life and extraordinary contribution to Canadian art.
Saturday, February 16
Arctic Adventure, Accessible McMichael Family Art Program
Saturday, February 23
Meet the Curators: Susan Gustavison and Sharona Adamowicz-Clements
Sunday, March 10
Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3 exhibition opening with smudging ceremony and Red Sky performance
Sunday, April 7
Passionate Eye with Jamie Cameron and Christopher Bredt: a collectors’ story of Inuit and Northwest Coast art
Sunday, April 28
The Artist as Provocateur: an art chat about Kent Monkman and other contemporary First Nations artists
About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information: www.mcmichael.com
Michelle Kortinen, Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210
Connie Febbraro, Associate Director, Marketing & Communications
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2528