Tag Archives: art

Conversation Series Part Three! Meet Jaco Ishulutaq

7 Mar

After some technical difficulties, we are back with our third installment of our Conversation Series via Skype. This time, meet Jaco Isulutaq from Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung). Jaco is a well-respected carver who has been working for decades.

Jaco’s work is best known for his sculptures of the Inuit Sea Goddess, commonly called Sedna. Sedna is the Inuit sea goddess and a very important figure in traditional Inuit spirituality, particularly in coastal communities. There are many different names for the sea goddess as well as versions of her legend, which vary from community to community
According to one version, Sedna was a beautiful Inuit girl who was pressured into marriage to a sea bird by her father. Her new husband fed her fish and kept her in a nest on an island far from her family. Her father missed her and felt badly for forcing her into marriage, so he attempted to rescue her in his kayak. The bird was enraged, so he conjured up a deadly storm. In a panic, the father pushed Sedna over the side of the kayak but she clung to the side. Her father cut her fingers off, one by one, and they fell into the sea and transformed into sea mammals. Sedna herself sank into the water, where she transformed into the sea goddess. In other versions of the story, her husband is a dog or a hunter who gives her a sleeping potion and carries her off. Her father does not always cut her fingers off, either; sometimes, they freeze and fall off instead.

She was an incredibly important figure because she controlled Inuit access to marine mammals, which were a staple in many regional diets. She was easily upset and many traditional taboos (such as not eating caribou when hunting seal) were enforced in order not to anger her. Images of the Sea Goddess with unkempt hair often signify that she is upset, at which point she would hold back the marine mammals from Inuit hunters. The angukaak would then have to discover the transgression and overcome several trials in order to reach her undersea home. There, the angukaak would either have to soothe her by combing and braiding her hair or, in other versions, force her to release the sea mammals.

Skype Chat Series 2: Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory of Qaggiavvut!

2 Feb

As promised, today I had the pleasure of speaking with Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, the Executive Director of Qaggiavvut! Society for a Nunavut Performing Arts Centre. There was so much to talk about that we had to split the conversation into two videos!

Watch Part 1 here:

And Part 2 here:

For more information on Qaggiavvut! or help build a state-of-the-art performing arts centre in Iqaluit, be sure to go to the website.

I’m working on lining up our next interview (hopefully for next week) – who would you like to see us talk to next?

– Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator

2011 In Review

3 Jan

As we move into 2012, we want to quickly take a look back at 2011. It’s been a big year for the museum as we’ve expanded and moved into new territory, such as this blog. Here is 2011 in review:


Artist Abraham Anghik Ruben visited MIA to install Memories: An Ancient Past (2010), a sculpture which will eventually travel to the Smithsonian in 2012.


We opened our Twitter account and this blog!

We published its Inuit Wallhangings colouring book, focusing on wall hangings from Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake). The museum donates 500 copies to Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School in Qamani’tuaq.


We posted our introductory guide on our website.


MIA celebrated International Museum Day by conducting tours focused on museums and their relationship to memories.

MIA welcomed artist Noah Maniapik to conduct a printmaking workshop with visitors, courtesy of the M. and G. Thiel Educational Centre.



MIA celebrated National Aboriginal History Month by beginning Playing Favourites, a project encouraging visitors to have their pictures taken with their favourite piece in MIA’s collection and tell us why it is their favourite. The project is so successful it is extended indefinitely.



MIA began offering Quick Chat programming, aimed to entice visitors to look more closely at objects in the museum’s collection by giving short, focused introductions to particular objects.


In addition to the museum’s traditional audio guides, the museum now offers printed versions of the text for those who prefer to read rather than listen. The museum also began implementing bilingual signage throughout the museum’s interior to better serve its diverse audience and installed family-friendly labels throughout the museum in order to better serve the museum’s family audience.


MIA Director David Harris and Educational Coordinator Alysa Procida travelled to Kangirqliniq (Rankin Inlet), Nunavut from September 17 to September 24 to assist with project development, museum acquisitions and future exhibition planning.


We participated in Culture Days, a nation-wide weekend of free cultural activities aimed at engaging the community in arts and cultural programming. MIA offers free printmaking workshops and hands-on activities.

We welcomed the Inuit Art Society and artist Billy Gauthier to tour the museum as part of their annual conference. Representatives from the museum discuss the museum’s progress, mission and plans for the future at the conference in Hamilton.

MIA completely overhauls its audio guide system and implements Quick Response (QR) codes throughout the museum. When scanned by a smartphone or tablet device, they link visitors directly with relevant audio tracks, photos, videos, maps and additional information relevant to the object.

We opened its exhibition The Unique World of Jessie Kenalogak and incorporated physical and virtual ways to ask the artist questions and begin dialogue about the artwork with other visitors.


We published its Inuit Art in Canada in softcover, as well as its Introductory Guide and Gallery Selected Pieces Volume 1  as eBooks.

MIA launched its new membership categories with overhauled benefits, responding to visitors’ needs for a more customizable system.


MIA partnered with the National Film Board Mediatheque in Toronto to celebrate the launch of Unikkausivut: Sharing Our Stories. MIA visitors and members are entitled to a 10% discount on the DVD, while visitors to the NFB Mediatheque who also visit MIA receive a complimentary copy of Inuit Art in Canada.

2011 was a great year for the museum and we are looking forward to 2012: it’s the International Year of Co-Operatives and our partnership with the NFB Mediatheque continues this month. Stay tuned for more updates!

Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator

Printmaking 101 with Karolina!

5 Dec

One of the great parts of working at the Museum of Inuit art is the amount of art that you get to see on a daily basis. I have always had a passion for graphics and am really impressed by a lot of prints! So much so that I wanted to examine the process for myself and learn how it’s done. Turns out, it is quite the labor intensive process but also quite fun!! There are many types of printmaking methods that are in use today. Originally when printmaking began in the North, a lot of the prints were the result of stonecuts.  A drawing would be carved into the surface of a flat stone and then a roller is used to apply the ink to the surface. The image itself is left in relief so as to pick up the ink and the negative space is chiseled away from the stone. A paper is placed and rubbed over the entire inked stone to create the image transfer. Woodcuts are another form of printmaking and work much the same way but instead of carving into stone, wood is used. Now printmaking technology has advanced a great deal and various methods are in circulation. There are stencils, etchings, lithographs as well as mixed medium prints.

Recently I had the opportunity to take a course on printmaking methods offered at the Toronto Central Technical School where a variety of printmaking methods including linocut, etching and screen printing were demonstrated. Today, I will show you the process that goes into the creation of an etching.

In etching, a metal plate made of either steel, zinc or copper is used. The first step in etching is to prepare the plate. Often this involves filing down the sides of the plate and polishing the surface to create a smooth surface for working on.

Here I am filing the zinc plate down so that each edge is smooth and even all around.

Once the plate is ready it is covered in a waxy ground that is resistant to acid. The ground can then be scratched off or “etched” into with a variety of tools. Wherever the ground is removed and metal is exposed is where the design will result in the final print.

There are two types of ground that are typically used. Soft ground and hard ground. Hard ground dries before being etched into and soft ground remains malleable so that textures can be pressed into it.

Once the design is etched into the plate, the whole plate gets dunked into an acid bath.  The acid “bites” the exposed metal and creates lines and depth in the plate. The longer the plate remains in the acid, the more severe and deep the lines will be.

Safety first! Protective eyewear and gloves have to be worn when working with acid. Here I am running a feather along the surface of my plate to remove any bubbles that form as the acid "bites" the plate.

The next step in the process is to remove the excess ground and then go ahead and ink the plate. Ink is applied with cheesecloth or similar material in order to push it into the engraved lines. The excess is then removed from the plate which is now ready for printing.

Inking can take a long time, depending on how many colors are used. This one here is only using black ink.

The plate is then placed on a printing press, inked side up. The paper used for this type of printmaking is usually quite heavy such as watercolor paper. The paper is soaked in water and then the excess is squeezed out. The dampened paper is now ready to be placed on top of the plate. Next, a blanket is placed over top of everything and then the whole thing is pushed through a high pressure printing press.

Plate, damp paper and then the blanket get placed before being pushed through the press.

Once everything is pushed through, the blanket and paper is peeled off and Voila, a print is made! The process of inking and printing can be repeated many times which is how editioned prints come to be. A great example of an etching is Annie Pootoogook’s (1969-) print from 2003 entitled, “Interior/Exterior” which can be seen inside the Museum.

Ta da! The finished print being peeled off from the plate.

Posted by : Karolina Tomaszewska, MIA’s Development Officer

Sneak Peak: New Jessie Kenalogak exhibition!

28 Oct

Things have been busy, busy here at MIA. We have prepared a new museum exhibition space which features beautiful drawings by Jessie Kenalogak from Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake). These works have never been exhibited for public display and constitute a distinct group, produced over a period of several years while the artist was in Kangirqliniq (Rankin Inlet). There, she participated in the Kangirqliniq Centre for Arts and Learning’s programming and began to create distinct, colourful and intensely personal works.

Educational Coordinator, Alysa Procida, preparing an exhibition panel for mounting.

Jessie Kenalogak drawings framed and waiting to be installed!

Educational Coordinator, Alysa Procida, installing a text panel for the Jessie Kenalogak exhibition.

Assistant Technician, Ali, preparing drawings for hanging.

The Jessie Kenalogak exhibition is officially open so be sure to check it out on your next visit to MIA!

Posted by: Karolina Tomaszewska, MIA’s Development Officer

Congratulations Drawing Contest Winners!

1 Oct

Congratulations to our monthly drawing contest winners for September!

Amelie, 7, Rock Man:

CCF01102011_00000 (2)

Sandra, 4, Love For Inuit Art:


Maximus, 10, Nunavut:
If you’d like to participate, come to MIA and submit your drawing!!
-Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator


Ceramic Production Part 1

20 Sep

Today was a huge day for us here in Kangirqliniq (Rankin Inlet). As I mentioned yesterday, we had been popping by the Matchbox Gallery last weekend, but today we were there the whole day in order to do some work. Part of that work is documenting and researching some of their collection and part of it is getting to know the artists and share their process with you.

From left to right: Phillip Ugjuk, Jack Nuviak, Amauyah Noah and Jim Shirley sketching

First, a bit of background on the program. The Government of the Northwest Territories set up a ceramics program in Rankin Inlet in 1963 in order to provide jobs for local Inuit when the nearby Nickel Mine shut down (this was before the creation of Nunavut, when the NWT was administering the area). The program encountered several obstacles – things as basic as obtaining clay were challenges. There is local clay available, but the labor costs to process it are extremely high. Eventually, that program closed. In the 1980s, Jim Shirley came to the community and was inspired to begin another program. With his wife Sue, he opened the Matchbox Gallery in 1987 and revived ceramics making here.

The Kangirqliniq Centre for Learning and Arts operates with the same people on the same premises as the Matchbox. The KCLA realizes the Shirleys vision of artistic production: a communal, collaborative program that is supportive, holistic and enriching. Each day, artists begin by journaling in order to externalize and process whatever they are feeling; then, they do brief math and reading exercises. These activities perform several essential functions: they help to increase analytical and problem-solving skills, have clear real world enrichment and help to build self-confidence. With this base, everyone then completes some drawing exercises – often still lifes and portraits. These skills are the foundations of the program – the spatial reasoning needed to draw successfully translates into other art forms. Then, individual artists work on their own projects.

Today, we were able to participate in this process which was a true honor. Instead of simply documenting works, we really were integrated into the activities today. For example, today’s portrait subject was our Director, David.

(From left to right:) Philip Ugjuk, Helen Iguptak, Amauyah Noah, Jack Nuviak, Jim Shirley and David Harris look at sketches - of David.

I should also clarify something I said early – not exactly everyone participates in the drawing exercises. Veteran ceramicist Yvo Samgushak had no time or interest in sketching and instead moved directly to working on his own work. He later communicated to me that he though drawing was crazy (Yvo is deaf and communicates primarily using Inuktitut sign language).

Yvo Samgushak focuses on his own work while Jack Nuviak (left) and Jim Shirley sketch in the background.

In addition to Yvo, John Kurok, Jack Nuviak, Helen Iguptak, Amauyah Noah and Phillip Ugjuk were working, as well as Jim and Sue. The emphasis on collaboration in the studio was clear: Helen and Amauyah, for example, normally create dolls and prints, respectively. Today, they were working on creating clay masks. They helped each other, asked Phillip about sculpting noses and had input from John and Jack, too. There was lots of laughter in the studio. And just amazing material being created.

Amauyah Noah (left) and Helen Iguptak helping each other create masks.

They are all extremely gracious and friendly and I’m extremely grateful that they allowed me to photograph and film them working. I have to edit the movies before they go up on Youtube, but the photos are up on Facebook and Flickr currently. I further get the opportunity to speak to them individually this week about their work – if you have questions you’d like me to ask, let me know. I will keep posting updates as we work through the week  – if the rest of the week is anything like today, we are all in for some real treats.

Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator