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Introducing Our New Community Engagement Intern!

14 May

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Hello, my name is Tom and I am the new Community Engagement Intern here at the Museum of Inuit Art! I’ve been volunteering as a docent with MIA since August 2014. As a docent, I have had many wonderful opportunities to gain community engagement experience and I’m hoping to expand on that during my internship. Aside from my public docent tours that lead visitors through popular themes in Inuit art, stylistic differences across the Canadian Arctic, and the various types of material used to create the art, I’ve also assisted with several special events – you may have seen me during March Break and Winterfest! I’ve also had the opportunity to deliver MAP Family Saturday programing where I’ve visited Toronto Public Library branches and brought out museum artifacts from the museum’s Educational Collection for Hands-On sessions, played traditional Inuit games and led art activities so visitors could bring their own piece of art back home. I’ve also been attending a Museum Management and Curatorship program at Fleming College over the course of the past year. This program helped me develop a solid foundation of knowledge upon which to build my museum experience. While the program involved all sorts of work including care of collections and exhibition development, I’ve always had a strong interest in working with the public. When I needed to seek out a placement for an Internship for the MMC program, the MIA stood out to me both due to my cherished experience with the museum as well as the fact that I knew it had a lot of community programing coming up over the spring and summer. I was very happy that the Museum was willing to host my internship, and am excited to have the opportunity to develop my skills during my time here. I am really excited to be a part of the MIA team, thanks for having me! – Posted by Tom E., MIA’s Outreach Intern

Stories by the Qulliq

29 Dec
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A qulliq lamp burning whale blubber to keep the iglu warm. Photo by Brendan Griebel, 2012.

This past weekend the museum hosted “Stories by the Qulliq” where a series a of children’s stories illustrated several popular Inuit legends and myths. But what exactly is a qulliq?

Qulliq or Kudlik (ᖁᓪᓕᖅ) is the traditional oil lamp used by Inuit. Typically carved from stone, it takes a rounded shape with a depression at the top to hold the seal oil used as fuel. Prior to electricity and hydro becoming available in the Arctic this lamp acted as the only source of light and heat for Inuit. During the periods of perpetual winter darkness, the qulliq would have burned almost continuously inside the house. It also doubled as a stove.

Tending to the qulliq was commonly a woman’s job and was truly an art in itself. Cubes of blubber were placed on the lamp’s concave surface. A blubber pounder was used to crush the blubber, pressing out the precious oil it contained. The lamp wick, made from moss or cotton grass, was soaked in this oil and arranged on a line along the edge of the lamp. Prior to Inuit having access to matches, they would use a bow drill or two flint stones to create a spark to ignite the lamp. Once the lamp was lit, it required constant attention and trimming to ensure that the flames were the right height, that it wasn’t producing too much smoke, and that it wouldn’t go out.

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This qulliq is from the museums Educational Collection so visitors can get up close and see one in person.

While visitors listened to the tiny tale of the Inugarulligaarjuit in “Ava and the Little Folk” or sat in suspense during “The Spirit of the Sea” our very own qulliq was on display. Our collection also holds contemporary interpretations of the lamp. Notice anything different?

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“Fire Spirits Rising” (2008) by David Ruben Piqtoukun (1951 – ) Paulatuk, stone, charcoal

This piece by David Ruben Piqtoukun, is now on display inside the museum. You can find it in our Abstract case where you can learn more about the Follow You Art program.

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

Introducing Our Design and Arts Programmer!

9 Aug

The Museum of Inuit Art is pleased to welcome our fourth summer student for 2014, Natasha Dinsmore!

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My name is Natasha Dinsmore, I am a Ryerson University student currently working on obtaining my bachelor of design. I am fortunate to be joining the MIA team for the summer as the Design and Arts Programmer, a position that is made possible by Miziwe Biik.

My background is Inuvialuit, my mother was born and raised in Inuvik, so I am very passionate about working with and learning more about Inuit art. I am entering my final year at Ryerson University and my graduating collection will be inspired by my Inuit background. This is also a great opportunity for me to further gain experience in creating promotional materials and honing my graphic design abilities.

Tasks that Natasha will be completing over the month of August include the creation of a brochure to promote our school programs, promotional banners for the website, and the development of art activities for the 2015 calendar year.

– Posted by: Lindsay Bontoft, MIA’s Public Programming and Development Coordinator

Introducing Our YCW Summer Students!

7 Jun

We would like to formally welcome our two summer students, Serena and Lauren, to the team. MIA will be focusing its energy on some of its core operations over the summer thanks to the help of two summer student positions funded through Young Canada Works. Our ‘Follow Your Art’ program will  undergo rigorous evaluation by our Visitor Services Officer while new acquisitions are processed with the help of our Collections Management Officer.

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My name is Serena Ypelaar and I’m thrilled to have joined the MIA team as Visitor Services Officer!

I’m a student at the University of Ottawa, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in History and English Literature. I’m passionate about museums, and I’m eager to contribute at MIA! This summer, I will be evaluating the Follow Your Art program here at the museum. Part of this project involves the development of a study to gain insight on the success of the program. I will survey museum visitors in the hope of understanding how the Follow Your Art program has affected their overall MIA experience.

The Follow Your Art program is a self-guided tour option at the MIA which seeks to highlight the varying elements of Inuit art. The program involves a personality quiz which allows visitors to discover which art style (Realism, Minimalism, Expressionism, Abstract or Grotesque) appeals to them. With this insight, visitors can follow the different styles throughout the museum, hopefully gaining a deeper understanding of the art in addition to a personal connection with the works. The Follow Your Art program is designed to be thought-provoking and to challenge expectations of Inuit art.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work in such a wonderful museum, where I hope to expand my knowledge of museum work and Inuit art. I look forward to meeting you!

 

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My name is Lauren Williams and I will be spending the summer at the MIA as the Collections Management Officer!

As a recent graduate of the Master of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto I am excited to be working in my chosen field!  I always loved museums from what I could see as a visitor but it wasn’t until I began studying museology that I realized that I wanted to work in collections management. My first foray into the collections field was interning in the Artifacts Department at the Ontario Science Centre last summer.  It was there that I gained experience working with a large variety of objects – from wooden looms to carbon fibre violins.  I am excited for the opportunity to continue to diversify my collections experience and MIA is the perfect place for me to do this! Already I am enjoying learning about the different types of materials used in Inuit art such as stone, bone, ivory, and antler.  I love that sometimes collections work can have lots of similarities to detective work – I am always following clues and researching – and am excited to solve some mysteries in the MIA collection!

 

– Posted by: Lindsay Bontoft, MIA’s Public Programming and Development Coordinator

Worldwide Knit in Public Day!

5 Jun

IMG_3376   MIA front lobby podium covered in crochet hexagons to celebration of Worldwide Knit in Public Day.

June is a pretty big month here at MIA. This coming Saturday we will officially be reopening our doors to welcome in brand new exhibitions featuring even more examples of art styles, materials, and themes. We’ll also be celebrating National Aboriginal History Month with fun games and prizes AND we’ve just launched another community based project with local Toronto knitting groups (including the Bissell Bombers) as part of  World Wide Knit in Public Day!

For those unfamiliar with WWKiP Day, it all began back in 2005 when Danielle Landes gathered together a group of knitters. Rather than perform this traditionally solitary practice alone, they created an opportunity to spend some time together and really get to know their neighbors. That desire for human interaction and creative outlet inspired others to join and over the following years a simple day of knitting has turned into a global public art movement.

This Saturday and Sunday, MIA will be hosting knit inspired programming in our newly renovated space. From 12-4 visitors can join our Arts Assistants who will be giving demonstrations on the several different methods of pom pom making and how to create a bracelet with needle-less knitting techniques.

Special community exhibition case be prepared for visitor contributions as a part of Worldwide Knit in Public Day celebrations.

All of these yarn creations can be tokens of a fun day spent knitting out in public, or you can have them displayed in our special exhibition area. For the entire month of June, MIA has dedicated a public curated space to showcase the unique talent within the community. Those who wish to participate by bringing supplies and taking part of our Knit in Public activities receive FREE admission.

Hope to see all you crafters this weekend!

– Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Visitor Services Officer

Goodbyes!

30 May

It saddens me to write this, but my internship has officially come to end. I’ve had a wonderful learning experience at the MIA and I’m really proud of the work that I’ve done here. As of this afternoon, all of the lesson plans and teacher resources are up on our website and waiting to be enthusiastically implemented by teachers in the upcoming school year! Besides honing my lesson planning skills, I’ve definitely come away with more knowledge about Inuit art and history and confidence to infuse this critical subject matter into different curricular strands.

Many thanks to my supervisor, Alysa Procida, who will certainly be missed. Her expert advice, thorough proofreading and careful attention to detail helped to make these resources as polished and accurate as possible. Thanks to Brittany Holliss and Lindsay Bontoft for their continued help and support, as well!

I’m looking forward to one day making use of these resources myself and bringing my students to the museum for a guided tour.

See you later!

– Posted by: Aviva German, MIA’s Educational Intern

Week 4 Insights

24 May

Hello again!

Now that I’ve completed all of the grade 4-12 lesson plans (which should be up on the MIA’s website sometime next week, so keep an eye out for them!), I’ve been primarily focused on producing supplemental in-class resources. One way to bring the “museum experience” to the classroom is to have informative and interactive materials for teachers to implement and tailor to their students’ needs.

The MIA has long embraced technology as part of its mission to promote educational awareness of Inuit art and serve the local community. Above all, accessibility remains a cornerstone of each project undertaken by the institution and my work here is no exception. Similarly, my teaching practice and education at OISE have reinforced the need for technology-driven learning in order to adequately respond to students with diverse needs.

Teachers are encouraged to use all available media to enhance their lessons and help students make a connection to the artist and their artwork prior to coming to the museum for a visit. For instance, the origin stories of the Inuit Sea Goddess (commonly referred to as Sedna, however there are many different names for her) have been a source of inspiration for many Inuit artists. Although they vary from region to region in the Arctic, they ultimately conclude with the young girl falling victim to a rather violent severing of her fingers, which later transform into sea mammals. By giving students an opportunity to explore various interpretations of the Inuit Sea Goddess, they come away with a better understanding of the diversity and complexity of the Inuit culture.

Screen capture of Grade 11/12 Visual Arts slideshow

It’s also important for teachers to elevate the classroom discussion and enable students to dispel inaccurate notions or misconceptions about the Inuit in Canada. The goal should be to build an enduring understanding and respect, and what better way to connect to another community than by exploring the different forms and styles of Inuit art.

Screen capture of Grade 9 Native Studies slideshow

This was just a preview of what’s to come. I’ll be back with my final post next week to wrap up my internship!

– Posted by: Aviva German, MIA’s Educational Intern

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