The Drake's Inuit Art Symposium: A Re-cap

Posted by Ashley Mulvihill , March 07, 2017
Inuit Art

Our exhibition, Maanngat, which closed earlier this month developed as a result of our head curator Mia Nielsen visiting long-time friend Will Huffman at Dorset Fine Arts. Will, the Toronto-based force behind the organization, went through a vast array of drawings, prints, and etchings with Mia from the past 50-60 years.

Reflecting on the experience, Mia shared, “What I couldn’t believe was how contemporary the approach was; a completely different view of the soapstone carving that I had come to associate with the Inuit aesthetic. These drawings and prints were bold and imaginative, a vital window into a unique Canadian perspective.”

A few months later, a selection of works from Dorset Fine Arts, dating from the 60’s to 2016 were on display in our front entrance and café exhibition space, marking the Drakes first Inuit Art exhibition.

The title, Maanngat, is the Iniktitut translation for ‘From Here’ which we felt was an important perspective to highlight. So often, we who live in the south view Inuit artists’ perspectives as distinctly ‘north’ – but their experiences, views, inspirations predominantly stem from where they are, as their here and now. The art is, for us, from the north, but for them – each visual reference, technique, and influence stems from their immediate surroundings. In addition to the exhibition, and as part of our own cultural education around the artwork and communities of Cape Dorset, we felt a real responsibility to incorporate an educational component that engaged members of Toronto’s community.

As part of the discussion, The Drake, in partnership with Dorset Fine Arts and the West Baffin Eskimo Collective,invited The Power Plant Director Gaetane Verna, Art Gallery of Ontario curator of Canadian Art Andrew Hunter, and artist Saimaiyu Akesuk, joining us by Skype from her home in Cape Dorset, to participate in a symposium examining current issues around Inuit Art.

Day of, Andrew Hunter was unable to attend, and we were joined by Inuit art curator Dr. Nancy Campbell in his stead, who explored the work of Annie Pootoogook and Shuvinai Ashoona in depth for her PhD thesis.

With opening remarks by Mia and Will, the panel followed examining contemporary approaches to art making within the Dorset community, how art acts an economic driver, and the many ways in which it is helping promote awareness about the region.

To see the symposium, check out the videos below.

Introductory remarks by Mia Nielsen, Drake Hotel Properties & William Huffman, Dorset Fine Arts. Video courtesy of Cheryl Rondeau.

Panel Discussion with artist Saimaiyu Akesuk, the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery Director Gaetane Verna and independent curator Dr. Nancy Campbell, moderated by Mia Nielsen. Video courtesy of Cheryl Rondeau.

Posted in: Art