The Inuit artist Shuvinai Ashoona (b. 1961) creates her work at the Kinngait Studios, a community-run art-making cooperative incorporated in 1959 as the artistic arm of the West Baffin Cooperative. The work of her fellow Studio members–her aunts Napachie Pootoogook, Mayoreak Ashoona, and Kenojuak Ashevak–has made a profound influence on her art. Ashoona’s pen-and-pencil drawings fuse past and present into a divinatory future. The humans depicted in her drawings are joined by mermaids, human-animal hybrids, and fantastical sea creatures. Surreal details – a mother’s nourishing breast transformed into the Earth, the mask-like faces of a hooded figure, the fluorescent orange tint of a giant octopus – signal spiritual, cosmological, or phantasmic forces in delicate coexistence with the everyday.
Ashoona first came to prominence in the late 1990s, when her work was included in the 1997 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection. Recent solo presentations of her work include Holding on to Universes at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2020), and Mapping Worlds, organized by the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto (2019), which toured venues across Canada. Ashoona’s work is featured in The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani at the current edition of the Venice Biennale. Her work is in a number of public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa/Gatineau, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC. In 2018, Ashoona received the prestigious Gershon Iskowitz Prize.
Friday, September 16th at 5pm
Introdution to Shuvinai Ashoona by William Huffman
Outsider Art Fair Paris, Stand 1
For more that 25 years, William Huffman (director of the West Baffin Cooperative) has functioned as an arts administrator, curator, writer and educator while developing an extensive local and international, professional cultural network. He has worked with a number of organizations in Canada and beyond, developing strategies to more effectively deliver creative learning initiatives and provide broader public access to the arts. More recently, he has been working between Toronto and the Canadian Arctic, with the West Baffin Cooperative, creating enhanced local, national and international opportunities for Inuit artists.