‘Nuliajuk’ Comes to MIA

20 Nov
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MIA Collections Manager Lauren Williams receives a wall hanging from Jacob Keanik, President/Chair of the Gjoa Haven Heritage Society

Last week the museum had a group of special guests visit the museum. And they came a loooong way for a tour!

Despite a few flight delays and a battle through Toronto traffic, Obrian Kydd from the Nunavut Economic Developers Association and Jacob Keanik, the President/Chair of the Nattilik Heritage Society  made the trip from Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven) to MIA as one of their Toronto stops.

Touring through the museum exhibitions, MIA staff introduced our ‘Follow Your Art’  program – used to help identify the different styles seen in Inuit Art-  and of course we wanted to showcase all the unique and talented artists whose works are represented in the museum. It was such a real thrill to see Obrian and Jacob recognize pieces their friends had made and hear some of the stories behind the sculptures.

After an exciting brain storming session about future programming and a good chuckle about the Franklin Expedition discovery/the importance of oral history MIA staff were speechless when we were presented with a beautiful wall hanging made by Helen Kaloon!

Helen Wallhanging

“Nuliayok” (2013) by Helen Kaloon (1959- ) Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven), duffle and embroidery thread, MIA Collection.

This duffle wall hanging shows a scene from the story of Nuliajuk, who many of our visitors may also know as ‘Sedna’. Although there are different variations to the story, the main elements are consistent across story tellers and Nuliajuk is always credited as being the creator of the sea-life found in the Arctic. Depending on who is telling the story, some people will describe how Nuliajuk tried to flee her husband by clinging to the side of  her father’s boat during a rescue attempt while another version describes Nuliajuk swimming into the Arctic ocean in an attempt to catch up to her parents who have abandoned her. In both accounts, to release Nuliajuk from the boat her fingers are cut off. Unable to hold onto the boat any longer,  she sinks into the ocean where her severed fingers transform into the sea animals who now inhabit the Arctic ocean.

We hope Helen’s ‘Nuliajuk’ wall hanging likes her view of Lake Ontario, we’ll certainly enjoy having her as an artist ambassador for the Kitikmeot Region here at the museum.

– Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Digital Assets Coordinator

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