Tag Archives: sculpture

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.


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.


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.

rolling up works on paper for return

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

I’ve Got A Bone to Pick!

11 Jul
Manice "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

“Faces (Bone on Bone)” by Manasie Akpaliapik (1955- ), Qikiqtaaluk, ossified whalebone, MIA Collection, 2013.4.30.1-2.

As the Young Canada Works Collections Management Officer here at the MIA, I started my summer off with a group of works – mostly stone sculpture – acquired by the museum in 2013.  I have always been interested in different materials used in the production of objects and Inuit art is no exception. So, from day one, I’m sure I sounded like a broken record: “Alysa, what kind of stone is this?”  Until finally, I began to recognize the vibrant greens of the serpentinite of a Toonoo Sharky, RCA and the bold black basalt in Barnabus Arnasungaaq’s work.

Toonoo Sharky "Spirit Fish"

“Spirit Fish” by Toonoo Sharky (1970- ), Kinngait (Cape Dorset), serpentinite stone, ivory, MIA Collection, 2013.4.41.

Barnabus "Man"

“Man” by Barnabus Arnasungaaq (1924 – ), Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), basalt stone, MIA Collection, 2013.4.55.











Soon after I familiarized myself with the stone, I was thrown a curve-ball when I was tasked with cataloging and condition reporting Untitled [Faces (Bone on Bone)] by Manasie Akpaliapik.  I found this carving absolutely striking not only in the way the artist has created an eerily lifelike face but because it was a completely new medium to me: ossified whalebone.

amazed cat gif

My face during the entire experience.

Ossified whalebone is bone from whales that has been dried out over time making it a viable medium for carvings (prior to my time, someone very eloquently explained the process of whalebone carving on this very blog so I won’t go into great detail here). I have worked with bone before, both animal and human(!), but never whalebone!  This medium has the same bubbly-spongy look to it as a lot of other bone but only whale-sized!  I was entranced by its texture and managed to find a magnifying glass so I could get an even closer look!  For what felt like a long time I was lost in the microcosm of the whalebone. When I returned to reality, I finished cataloging and condition reporting the piece.  As Collections Management Officer I am required to take detailed photos of each piece and these definitely turned out to be some of my favourites!

Detail of "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

Detail of “Faces (Bone on Bone)”

Take a look and see what you think!

Detail of "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

Detail of “Faces (Bone on Bone)”

Posted by: Lauren Williams, MIA’s Collections Management Officer

Meet Master Artist Jaco Ishulutaq!

9 Aug

Ever wanted to see exactly how sculptures are made? Want to know what working within the co-operative system is like? Are you a fan of Jaco Ishulutaq’s work? Well, now’s your chance! Jaco is coming to the museum and will be here from August 15 – 19 as part of our programming for Planet IndigenUS.

Jaco Ishulutaq working in the Arctic

Jaco Ishulutaq working in the Arctic. Courtesy of RJ Ramrattan/Canadian Arctic Producers

You may remember Jaco from earlier this year when I was able to chat with him via Skype as part of our Conversation Series. He is a technically skilled master sculptor from Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung) whose work tells important stories about his community and his life. There are lots of opportunities to meet him, speak with him and see how he works next week, so mark your calendars!

Wednesday August 15:
2 PM – 3 PM: Complimentary Public Talk, “Art Making in Canada’s North”

Jaco  and I will discuss the challenges and rewards of making art in the Arctic. Visitors will have a chance to ask him their own questions and talk with him about his career. Register in advance at Eventbrite or on Facebook!

Thursday August 16

2 PM – 3 PM: Complimentary Opening of “Working Together: The Cooperative Influence” Special Exhibition

I will give an introduction to and brief tour of the museum’s latest special exhibition, “Working Together: The Cooperative Influence” which examines the important role Inuit owned and operated cooperatives have played in the development of art made by Inuit.  Jaco will discuss his experiences working within the cooperative system in Panniqtuuq before opening the floor to questions. Visitors will then have the opportunity to meet the artist. Register in advance on Eventbrite or on Facebook!

Friday August 17

2 PM – 3 PM: Complimentary Public Talk, “Making Art Within the Cooperative System”

Jaco and I will give an overview of the museum’s latest special exhibition “Working Together: The Cooperative Influence” before discussing art made specifically in Panniqtuuq. Panniqtuuq is home to an internationally acclaimed weaving studio, print studio and many sculptors. Visitors will then have the opportunity to ask Ishulutaq their questions and meet the artist. Register in advance on Eventbrite or on Facebook!

7 PM – 9 PM MIA Gallery Collectors’ Night

The MIA Gallery will host its weekly collectors’ night, introducing participants to art made by Inuit and the Inuit art market. MIA’s Director of Education Alysa Procida will begin with a brief tour of the museum, followed by a brief talk by MIA’s Gallery Director Christine Platt about the important features of the Inuit art market. Then, artist Jaco Ishulutaq will discuss his experiences making art and his works on display in the gallery. Participants will then have the ability to browse the gallery and speak with Ishulutaq directly. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved in advance at http://miagallerycollectorsnight.eventbrite.com/.

Saturday August 18

12:30 PM -5 PM: Sculpture Making Demonstration – Complimentary

Master carver Jaco Ishulutaq will demonstrate his art making techniques by completing a sculpture just outside the Museum of Inuit Art at Queen’s Quay Terminal. From 12:30 PM to 5 PM, visitors are welcome to visit Ishulutaq while working and discuss his art and techniques with him. The carving demonstration will take place outside MIA’s south entrance on the southwest corner of Queen’s Quay Terminal facing Lake Ontario. Register in advance on Eventbrite or on Facebook!

We hope to see you there!

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

Support for these events has been generously provided by Canadian Arctic Producers and the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association.

“Getting” Art with Alysa

14 May

More musings from the MIA intern coming at ya!

When I first came into the museum studies program I thought that I would be surrounded by students who loved art as much I do. I had this vision of people gathered together at an exhibition opening, talking about such-and-such an artist and their brilliant project -which was sure to change the world.

In reality though…not so much.

Turns out I’ve got a bit of an art history bias and sort of forgot about the other types of museums out there. Like the natural history or science museums.


Not to give my fellow students a bad rap. Networking with archaeologists and scientists has some pretty cool benefits. And there are a lot of people out there who either haven’t given art the time of day, or walked away from it rather quickly because they “didn’t get it”. There are even times where I myself struggle to understand a theory or philosophy an artist is trying to address in their work.

But thank goodness for the internet! Google searches, podcasts, and videos have certainly answered a lot of questions I’ve had about what the heck some artists are doing. And joining that resource list is a member of our MIA team, Educational Coordinator Alysa Procida!


Recently she was asked by Lifestyle Goddess to talk about some of the pieces in the MIA collection. In the short segments, Alysa quickly covers portions of an artist’s biography in order to give the viewer context but without over burdening them with lots of detail or complicated terminology.

I’ll admit that before starting my internship here at MIA, I had never heard of Mattiusi Iyaituk before. But after watching Alysa’s video, and understanding his style and motivations I’ve been able to walk around the MIA’s collection pointing out his sculptures without referencing any labels. Success!!!

Alysa has also discussed the work of Bart Hanna  and Abraham Anghik Ruben in two other videos, which I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I have. And hopefully they’ll make you feel like you’ve finally arrived at the “art getters” club.

posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Educational Assistant


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