JULY 16 - AUGUST 17
Opening Reception - Thursday July 18th, 5 to 7 pm
Ningiukulu Teevee • Nicotye Samayualie • Padloo Samayualie • Ooloosie Saila
Exhibit curated by Ellen Fraser, Print Inuit
Kinngait (Cape Dorset) is a tiny hamlet on Baffin Island where roughly one quarter of the 1200 residents are involved in the arts, and an estimated $4,000,000 is generated annually by the sale of their artwork. On Tuesdays and Thursdays in Kinngait, buying days, local artists bring their freshly created drawings and sculptures to the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative for purchase. The Inuit owned cooperative then sends the art to their marketing division in Toronto, Dorset Fine Arts, and the art travels on to exhibitions and art collections around the world. Drawing has always been the foundation of the famous Cape Dorset Print Collections, as each year drawings are chosen to be translated into prints. However, the last few decades have seen a shift in the importance of Inuit drawing, a shift that began with the success of Annie Pootoogook’s colour pencil drawings of her life and community, a shift that brings us to the drawings of today where the constraints of traditional work have been broken and Inuit drawings are now international contemporary art. The exhibition Tavvauna at Studio 22 feature 4 women artists from the Kinngait Cooperative: Ningiukulu Teevee, Nicotye Samayualie, Padloo Samayualie and Ooloosie Saila. The title Tavvauna (Here it is translated from Inuktut into English) suggests the immediacy of the images and the connection between artist and subject. Each of the 4 artists has a different approach to drawing, but all of them share a sense of contentment and wonder in their relationship with their subjects.
Ningiukulu Teevee’s five drawings in Tavvauna have fanciful imagery drawn from myth, and yet the visceral depiction of the characters invites the viewer to share their experience as real. Ningiukulu Teevee is a remarkably gifted artist who started drawing in the late 1970’s and came to the Kinngait Printmaking Studio in 2004. Granddaughter of artist Jamasee Teevee, she is among the third generation in the Kinngait Studio and is one of Canada’s most celebrated visual artists. Ningeokulu translates Inuit legends with intelligence, wit and vibrant formal aesthetics to create work at the forefront of contemporary Inuit art. Viewers of her drawings can imagine the images forming as she mulls over a storyteller’s myth, combines it with her modern world view, and uses her unique alchemy to produce messages of brilliant clarity that bridge past and present.
“A couple of years ago I made Shaman Revealed, a drawing that was based on the Kiviuq legend of a woman turning into a fox. I wanted to show how people could change from one thing to another but still be the same person. A zipper came to mind and I thought, that’s a really nice idea, so I used the zipper to show how they change.” -Ningiukulu Teevee (From Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset Celebrates Fifty Years of Printmaking, 2009)
Ningiukulu is one of the most versatile and intelligent graphic artists to emerge from the Kinngait Studios. Born May 27, 1963, Ningiukulu is the daughter of Joanasie Salomonie (deceased) and his wife Kanajuk. Her father, Joanasie, was a community leader and much loved in Cape Dorset for his sense of humour, mischief and compassion. In the fall of 2009, Ningiukulu’s first children’s book was published by Groundwood Books (A Division of House of Anansi Press). Entitled Alego, it is an autobiographical story of a young girl named Alego who goes clamdigging with her grandmother for the first time and, along the way, discovers all of the wonders of the seashore. The book was short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s illustration. Since her first prints appeared in the collection in 2004, Ningiukulu has been one of Kinngait’s studio’s most celebrated artists. She has a comprehensive knowledge of Inuit legends and a fine sense of design and composition. These elements that have made many of her prints highly sought after by collectors. Ningiukulu has had numerous solo shows of her bold and resplendent drawings and some of her work has been featured in exhibitions in major public galleries and museums.
Nicotye and Padloo Samayualie, sisters, both draw landscape and everyday objects. Nicotye revels in repetition of patterns and details as she draws every wave in the water, every crackle in the glaze of a pot, or every rock in a cliff. As the viewer gets lost in the artist’s repetition of detail, an ordinary subject may bring an extraordinary sense of contentment and reverence. Nicotye’s works in Tavvauna invite viewers into the zen world of “here it is”.
“Buttons attract me because they are made of different colours and shapes. I like colourful buttons.” -Nicotye Samayualie
Nicotye Samayualie was born on November 23, 1983. She is the daughter of Kudluajuk Ashoona and Johnny Tunnillie Samayualie. Nicotye’s grandmother, Keeleemeeoomee Samayualie was a well known graphic artist whose prints were represented in the Cape Dorset annual print collections throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. Nicotye is fascinated by patterns and arrangements of disparate objects in nature and man-made materials. Many of her drawings depict everyday items such as the contents of a pantry shelf, a table of shiny fishing lures or boxes of camping supplies. Nicotye has had her original drawings shown at the Toronto Art Fair and in 2013 her work was featured in an Italian publication, ‘Annie e le Altre’, an ambitious scholastic study that explored the role of women artists in Cape Dorset
Padloo, unlike her sister, forgoes the small patterns and concentrates instead on compositions to share the feeling of her vast landscape. Padloo composes coloured details, often floating in a spare ground of snow or water, to create a feeling of expansiveness and deep breathing. Her images in Tavvauna are calming, but in a different way from Nicotye’s. Rather than tunnelling into detail, one is invited to throw open one’s arms and experience the entire image. Padloo is also very interested in architecture and any graphics that cross her path, and renders them with accurate detail. Padloo is one of the most promising of the 4th generation of artists in the Kinngait studios.
Padloo Samayualie comes from a family of well-known artists. Her grandparents on her mother’s side are renowned sculptors Qababuwa and Taraya Tunnillie and on her father’s side Keeleemeeoomie Samayualie was a grandmother and Elijakota Samayualie was an aunt. Padloo began drawing seriously while attending a Banff drawing workshop in 2001. In 2007 she was part of an animation workshop in Cape Dorset and she has studied jewelry making at Arctic College.
Ooloosie Saila is another 4th generation artist in the Kinngait Studio, and is the granddaughter of the famous carver Pauta Saila. Ooloosie grew up occasionally visiting Kenojuak Ashevak and during these visits she gained an appreciation for both the benefits of a sturdy work ethic and for the use of dense colours in bold patterning. Her first print, Ornamental Owl, in the 2017 Cape Dorset Print Collection marked Ooloosie as a young artist to follow. Her use of colour and pattern is reminiscent of 1960’s mod designs; whether soaring over a frozen lake, turning an owl’s outstretched wings into a landscape, or altering a vista into a frenzy of coloured shapes, Ooloosie’s drawings are refreshingly different and whimsical.
As a child, Ooloosie was inspired to draw through occasional visits to the home of Kenojuak Ashevak. At age 14 she won first prize at her high school drawing contest. She began selling her drawings to the Co-op in 2015 and continues to explore many divers themes and ideas in her work.