Budding Nunavik artists find inspiration in annual camp

‘It helps me want to continue to go to college to study more artsy stuff’

Students in Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s annual art camp participate in a Zoom call with artists and art educators from the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (Photo by Malaya Qaunirq Chapman)

By Malaya Qaunirq Chapman

KUUJJUAQ—Five Nunavik students from around the region stayed mostly focused and busy, using brushes, pens and crayons to depict local landscapes, with a bit of inspiration provided by talks with established Inuit artists.

They were gathered in Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s boardroom for three days, from April 27 to 29, as part of the third annual art trip hosted by the school board. This year’s theme was “changing landscapes.”

Their paintings and drawings are displayed on the wall of the stairs leading to the school board’s kitchen, which is where the group gathered for lunch, and had a sushi supper on the last day of the trip.

On the first day, they had a Zoom conversation with Niap Saunders, a Montreal-based artist who has received international acclaim for her artwork, which ranges from murals to immersive installations to portraiture. Her murals appear around Kuujjuaq.

Some asked her what it’s like to live as a full-time artist, while others asked her for tips and more inspirations.

“It helps me want to continue to go to college to study more artsy stuff. I’ve been looking to do art my whole life. Niap inspired me to keep doing what I love to do,” said one student, Velesie Adams of Ivujivik, afterwards.

Students also connected via Zoom with artists and art educators from the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Vancouver Art Gallery. They talked about visual art and various methods that are part of the creative processes while looking at Inuit art.

During their Zoom call with Winnipeg Art Gallery, students got to watch Beatrice Deer and Julie Grenier’s collaboration of an amauti sewn with sealskin.

They also looked at Nuliajuk by Thomassie Kudluk, a carving that depicts his interpretation of the Inuit sea goddess. Kayla Tukkiapik from Kangirsuk excitedly shared he was her grandfather. Although he had passed away before she was born, Kayla said that he was known for his great sense of humour.

At the end of the workshop, when asked what was their favourite work of art that they looked at, they shouted: “All of them!”

One said, “I love seeing Inuit art!”

At the end of the workshop with the Vancouver Art Gallery, one student asked: “How do you stay motivated?”

This question led to an honest conversation about how this can be a challenge and how artists have to find what gives them joy to continue to feel motivated.

“I’m so glad to meet people I’ve never seen in my life and talk to them,” said Tukkiapik. She said one of her takeaways from the workshop will be to “fear nothing, mistakes are OK.”

The same sentiment was shared by Paasa Mangiok, from Ivujivik, who wants to attend Nunavik Sivuniksavut, or perhaps the visual arts program at Montreal’s John Abbott College.

“My hopes are to stay motivated, and easily find inspiration and to expend my art skills. Don’t stop experimenting.”

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Thomassie Mangiok on

    To all students, continue having fun knowing that we’re proud of whatever you make. You inspire us through your work.

    And to all organizers, thank you for investing in them. Nunavik invested in me, so I share the fruits of my work. Same will done by these students through their future work if they choose to.

    And specifically to my daughter, I love you and I’m very proud of you. We look up to you. Pisitiuvutit.

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  2. Posted by Lia Smith on

    I am so impressed with these young women for venturing out to make art with strangers. Already they are building an art community for themselves, which is essential for any artist to thrive. I’m looking forward to seeing what these young women do next.

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  3. Posted by Keith Ferris on

    Enjoyed the article. Very informative and with a personal touch with the quotes from some of the students. Well written!

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