Tag Archives: Inuit art

Culture Days Spotlight: Blandina Makkik

15 Sep

Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a national network of cultural connections devoted to providing Canadians with opportunities to participate in, and appreciate, all forms of arts and culture. MIA joins this collaborative initiative with our 3rd annual Inuit Art Identification Clinic. Members of the public are invited to bring in a piece of Inuit art from their personal collection to have it verbally appraised by a panel of experts. 


MIA is pleased to welcome back the wonderful Blandina Makkik for her second year on our all-star panel of Inuit art specialists.  Blandina is an excellent addition to the panel with her keen eye for spotting signatures and her intimate knowledge of Inuktitut.  You won’t want to miss the opportunity to have such an experienced professional examine your own precious artworks!

Blandina MakkikBlandina Makkik was born and raised in Igloolik on the northwestern coast off Baffin Island, Nunavut. Previous to joining the team at the Craft Ontario Shop, she served as a Land Claims Implementation Advisor for the Government of Nunavut. She has also worked as an Advisor for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade where she traveled extensively throughout the Circumpolar world.

From 1985 to 1991, Blandina was the Senior Producer for Inuit Broadcasting and developed the first children’s television programming available in Inuktitut. The program, Takuginai (Look and Learn) won numerous awards internationally. Blandina joined Craft Ontario in 2005.

She has her International Baccalaureate from Lester B. Pearson College of The Pacific and has also attended Trent University, McGill University and St. Francis Xavier University.

 

Culture Days Spotlight: Christa Ouimet

9 Sep

Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a national network of cultural connections devoted to providing Canadians with opportunities to participate in, and appreciate, all forms of arts and culture. MIA joins this collaborative initiative with our 3rd annual Inuit Art Identification Clinic. Members of the public are invited to bring in a piece of Inuit art from their personal collection to have it verbally appraised by a panel of experts. 


This year we are pleased to have Christa Ouimet return to our all-star panel of Inuit art specialists. Christa has been a panelist every year since our inaugural event in 2013.  Christa is an integral part of Katilivik  –  an indispensable resource for staff at MIA.  Check it out next time you are looking to identify an artist – you can search by name, community, disc number, or even syllabics!

 

Christa Ouimet - updated photo

Christa’s Biography

As Managing Director of Waddington’s Inuit art Department and Fine Art Specialist, Christa’s extensive knowledge and experience has earned her reputation as one of the world’s leading experts in Inuit Art.  Her 15 years in the Canadian art auction industry has culminated in the handling of over $2 million of Inuit art a year.  In addition to auction sales and appraisal consultation, Christa provides an educational service through a free web based platform including identifying artists, dating sculptures, evaluating and providing biographical information.  2003 saw Christa’s first major contribution to Waddington’s when she added a spring auction in addition to the annual fall auction of Inuit Art, at the same time she was able to pursue her desire to promote Inuit works on paper as the sole focus of her inaugural spring catalogue.  Waddington’s spring Inuit Art auction continues to be an anticipated event and a fixture in the Waddington’s auction calendar.  In 2007 Christa spearheaded Waddington’s online auctions offering an additional selection of Inuit art every month.  Online auctions are now a successful addition to all of Waddington’s specialties.  Christa has developed partnerships for promotional events in correspondence with Waddington’s biannual Inuit art auctions with esteemed organizations such as, Adventure Canada, McMichael Canadian Art Collection and BirdLife International.  Christa enjoys being a regular panelist in the Museum of Inuit art’s (MIA) annual appraisal clinic.

Get Up Close and Personal: Please DO Touch!

21 Aug

Over the past few weeks, Serena -the museum’s Summer YCW work intern, has been developing more interactive programming inside the museum. After brainstorming, researching, testing and training volunteers she was able to launch Get Up Close and Personal to share art works directly with museum visitors. Read about her experience creating the new program below.


Keeping museum pieces secure and safe from harm is a priority at any museum or art gallery. No museum is complete without a large sign or two saying “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH”. However, if you’ve been to MIA in the last couple of months on a Thursday afternoon, you may have had the chance to participate in our new Get Up Close and Personal sessions.

These interactive sessions offer visitors the unique opportunity to touch objects from the MIA Educational Collection. Pieces in our Educational Collection are meant to be handled, so visitors can feel free to pick them up and learn more about the texture and material of each object.

I’ve been running these weekly Get Up Close and Personal sessions since July, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive so far. Visitors enjoy engaging in this tactile experience and trying to guess what material each piece is made of based on its texture.

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Serena is all set to go for ‘Get Up Close and Personal’. You can join a session every Thursday from 1-2 PM in the museum.

It’s quite interesting to see how visual appreciation of the works in the museum translates to visitors’ tactile experiences – I often ask visitors to feel the porous texture of the antler doll in the collection and to guess what material it is made of. The most common answers are “bone” and “wood”, so most visitors are surprised to learn that the doll is made of antler, which caribou shed every year.

It has been especially rewarding to see how visitors make connections between what they have already seen in the museum and what they are holding in their hands. Once visitors find out that the carved ivory piece is a walrus tusk, many of them mention the narwhal tusk and the small ivory sculptures in the historical case at the museum.

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Pieces from the museum’s Educational Collection that reflect the different types of materials and textures you can find in art produced by Inuit.

I’ve even encountered visitors who are familiar with Inuit art and have recognized different types of stone, pointing to Pudliak Shaa’s “Dancing Goose” and saying, “is that serpentine?”

These interactions with visitors are part of what makes working at MIA so fulfilling. I love contributing to visitor learning and watching visitors discover more about Inuit art. If you’d like to see (and touch) these objects for yourself, be sure to drop by the museum on Thursdays from 1-2 PM!

Posted by Serena Y., MIA’s Community Engagement Officer

Something Different, Something New: The Making of ‘Unikkaaqtuat’

23 Jul

It’s hard to believe I only arrived at the museum two months ago, and that my internship is almost over. Everyone here has made me feel so welcome; it’s made my internship just fly by. So much has happened in that short period of time that it’s hard to fit everything into just a few paragraphs. To cover some of the main points, while I’ve been here I’ve gotten to apply everything I learnt in school to actual situations. I’ve had the opportunity to catalogue and condition report objects, to transport object, and to pack and store objects – all things I’ve learnt theoretically but seldom in practice. I have gotten to grow, to learn, and to be confident in my opinions and ideas.

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Myself and the MIA Collections Manager preparing some works on paper to be returned.

Being able to state my opinions and ideas with confidence is the most important part of this internship for me, and it is what helped make our newest exhibition Unikkaaqtuat: Inuit Creation Stories a reality. When I first started I was asked, somewhat in passing, to think about what a new exhibition could be. There were a few options, but nothing stood out to me except finding a way to explore Inuit myths and legends. I did not know much, but I was eager to learn more.  That’s how I began the research for this exhibition – by reading a wide variety of myths and legends, and I started with Inhabit Media’s “Unikkaaqtuat: An Introduction to Inuit Myths and Legends.” As soon as the idea solidified I emailed Inhabit Media, and got great feedback from their organization. I got to choose some of my favourite stories, and with MIA’s Collections Manager I got to look through the museum collection to find objects to accompany those stories. Together Lauren and I narrowed down our list, and chose objects to best reflect the stories. From that point on it became a matter of organization. Which stories would go beside each other? Which objects look best when paired together? What can we do to create the best impact?

We planned this exhibition to be as family-friendly as possible, to add colour, lower plinths, and create interactive components to help entice parents to bring their children to the museum. Objects and text panels were placed lower on the wall to help children interact with the objects. We’ve even added a LEGENDary Theatre so visitors can use puppets to act out the stories they’ve read in the exhibit or share their own stories.

There are five different stories represented in the case, each accompanied by art from the MIA permanent collection.

There are five different stories represented in the case, each accompanied by art from the MIA permanent collection.

As the exhibition planning and execution continued to progressed, it became obvious to me that this would become an exhibition with a selection of some of my favourite stories, and objects. From light and humorous to dark and frightening, this exhibition explores different stories of how things came into existence.

Following the opening more programming, tours, and art activities will connect with the show and I hope you have a chance to see it this summer.

– Posted by Taylor M., MIA’s Collections Intern

Be Part of MIA: Adopt an Object

11 Jan

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This year, MIA is  really excited to launch a new fundraising program: Adopt an Object!

Supporters of art made by Inuit can now select a piece of the museums Permanent Collection currently on display and symbolically “adopt” that piece for a one year term. MIA’s staff members have selected some of their favourite objects as candidates for adoption based on their unique characteristics, notable history and impressive craftsmanship. Each of these pieces will be highlighted in future blog posts, so be sure to check back in and see our selection.

The ‘Adoption Package’ includes:

  • a photograph and description of the piece you have chosen to adopt, which you can proudly display in your home, office or classroom
  • names of individuals will be entitled to have their names listed as Adopters on the object labels within the museum space
  • recognition on our websites Donors’ page
  • name included in the museum’s Annual Report
  • invitation to a special cocktail reception to thank all participants for their generous contributions to the museum
  • additional programming opportunities are also available upon discussion with the Associate Curator Alysa Procida

All funds raised from this initiative will go directly into the educational programming and continued preservation of MIA’s collection. As a public institution that holds its work in public trust, conservation of the museum’s collection is one of MIA’s top priorities. This is especially true for those objects made out of sensitive materials such as ivory, textile or paper. At the same time, MIA is southern Canada’s only museum devoted exclusively to art made by Inuit, meaning that the museums ability to effectively offer engaging educational programming is crucial. Through the Adopt an Object program, staff hope to acquire resources to help us manage these challenges. This will allow us to continue to educate the public about the art and its conservation.

Adoption Rates:

  • Small stone, antler and ivory pieces                                              $150
  • Medium stone, antler and ivory pieces                                         $300
  • Large stone, antler and ivory pieces                                              $500
  • Ceramic pieces                                                                                   $200
  • Wall hangings and soft sculpture works                                       $200
  • Prints and textile pieces                                                                   $200
  • Prints and Wall hangings made by Master Artists                     $700
  • Sculptures made by Master Artists                                                $1,000

All donors adopting an object will be issues a tax receipt. Rates are established based on the material and size of the artifact being adopted. After the priority works listed above have been adopted, additional opportunities will become available.

We thank all those that choose to support us in this endeavor by adopting an object. It is through the generous contributions of such individuals that we are able to further our mission: “to ethically acquire, conserve, research, communicate and exhibit for the purpose of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of the history of Inuit art and culture in the Canadian Arctic”.

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

Art, Responsibility and Stereotypes

14 Oct

It’s no secret that stereotypes of Aboriginal peoples exist, as distressing or damaging as they can be, and that these ideas can manifest themselves in many different forms. The best take I have seen on stereotypes related to Inuit is the short film Sloth, by Inuit filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. It’s only two minutes long, but pokes fun at both historical and modern popular views of Inuit:

The point of this post isn’t to get into why stereotypes form, but to point out that they are damaging and pervasive. This has become extremely clear in recent press coverage of acclaimed Inuit artist, Annie Pootoogook.

Annie Pootoogook

Annie Pootoogook in 2009 via Nunatsiaq News

We, like many of you, have been reading stories about Annie for a number of years. Her art has been internationally exhibited; she was the winner of the prestigious Sobey Art Award in 2006; and had broken many other barriers for contemporary Inuit artists. But recently, she has been the subject of a different kind of press attention, one not focused on her art but on her personal life. I won’t link to the series of articles in question, but Annie has fallen on hard times and the response to her personal circumstances has been varied, but often is heavily steeped in stereotypical views of Aboriginal peoples and artists.

For example, numerous comparisons have been made between Annie and Ahnisnabae artist Norval Morrisseau (whose son Christian’s work we are exhibiting currently in our Aboriginal Voices Gallery). Presumably, this is because they were both “troubled”, but I find  it noteworthy that no other, non-Aboriginal artist’s name is invoked. Surely there have been “troubled” artists (and people, for that matter) of many different backgrounds.

Like many museums, we have exhibited Annie’s work before  though at present we do not have any on display. We still feel that Annie is an important voice in contemporary art and that her work needs to be considered on its artistic merits. We also take very seriously our role in displaying art sensitively and in promoting accurate information about the artists whose work we represent.

We have, however, been admittedly reticent to discuss the recent news coverage of her life because it was not directly related to her artwork and, frankly, struck our staff as problematically represented. However, some of our visitors have wanted to discuss this with us and with each other and so we felt that we should open up this space for conversation:

Do you think stereotypes of artists or Aboriginal peoples influence the way we see and speak about an artist’s work? Who do you think bears responsibility for breaking down these views? Do you think we could do more to directly confront these issues?

– Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Director of Education, Operations and Outreach

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Greetings from the newest MIA Development Officer

28 May
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Christine Platt, Development Officer, with her favourite Abraham Anghik Ruben artwork, “Raven and Sedna,” 2009

Hello everybody!

My name is Christine Platt, and I just joined the MIA team as a Development Officer! I am excited to work on the Inuit Art Magazine, the Canadian Inuit Art Project and much more. I especially look forward to sharing knowledge and ideas on contemporary Inuit art with all of you.

Before joining MIA, I completed a Masters in Museum Studies and a Masters in contemporary Chinese art. I also worked for a contemporary art fund in the Netherlands, and I’ve volunteered at many museums while living and working around the world (including at MIA as a docent).

I hope that together with the MIA staff and volunteers, I will help to engage an even wider audience in learning and experiencing Inuit art. I particularly aim to help attract more collectors to enter the contemporary Inuit art market. The artworks featured at the museum and in the gallery express so much in form, style, emotion and cultural heritage, which could enhance many private and corporate collections and the personal life experiences of our visitors and friends.

I will write on the blog to tell you more about this as I collaborate on different projects in the museum. Stay tuned for more!

-posted by Christine Platt, Development Officer