New WAG exhibit features Inuit artwork dating back thousands of years
This story was updated on Wednesday April 12, at 8 a.m.
A new exhibit featuring hundreds of pieces of Inuit art spanning thousands of years opened to the public this week in Winnipeg.
“This is truly an extraordinary show,” Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq CEO Stephen Borys said during the opening event April 6 for the Inuit Sanaugangit: Art Across Time exhibit.
“This is an immersive show that features nearly 400 artworks from the homeland of the Inuit in Canada and well beyond, and it’s one we think the community will love.”
According to Borys, the exhibit, which will run until January 2024, features work from the circumpolar Arctic region dating back as far as 200 BCE, up to the present day.
“This is artistic expression from over 2,000 years, and it’s displayed in this extraordinary space,” Borys said.
The exhibit is housed in Qaumajuq, a $55-million, 36,000-square-foot addition to Winnipeg’s art gallery that opened in March 2021 and currently houses more than 20,000 pieces of Inuit art, making it the largest public collection of Inuit art anywhere in the world.
Borys added the exhibit will feature work from all corners of Canada’s Arctic, as well as from Siberia, Alaska and Greenland.
“We are pleased to display work from artists that laid the foreground beside work of artists that are continuing and transforming Inuit art traditions,” he said.
The exhibit, which was curated by Dr. Darlene Coward Wight and Jocelyn Piirainen, features sculptures, drawings and clothing, as well as printmaking and film.
“I am thrilled that audiences will get to experience this large-scale reflection of the diversity of work that is and continues to be Inuit,” Coward Wight said.
“This exhibition shares the incredible range of creative work by artists from across the North.”
Members of the public are invited to a free grand opening celebration for Inuit Sanaugangit: Art Across Time on Friday at 7 p.m. at the WAG-Qaumajuq building in Winnipeg. The exhibit will be open to the public until Jan. 7, 2024.
Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Qaumajuq.
The Inuktut name for the gallery is Qaumajuq, not Qaumajug….I am not fluent but have not seen an Inuktut word ending in “jug” to date… see spellibg at https://www.wag.ca/about/qaumajuq/
Completely disgraceful that after its much talked about “50 years” no one at Nunatsiaq could spot such a basic error.
Well, did you notice the error? I see more and more editorial errors in news articles,not just Nunatsiaq News.
For better or worse if it wasn’t for the Government of Canada funding these ‘Local Journalism Initiative’ positions “50 Years” would be the number on Nunatsiaq’s tombstone.
This is an Ottawa based paper now
Archeologically the appellation ‘Inuit’ has only been applied for the past 600 years. Knowing that it would be interesting to get more context on what is considered Inuit Art from 2,000 years ago, including which historical culture (Old Bering Sea, Birnirk/Piġniq?) made it, and where.
If you go to their webpage the contributing groups are listed as the Unangax, Yup’ik and even Dorset. The first two are thought to be related to Inuit (though to call them ‘Inuit’ is not accurate in my opinion), while the Dorset (Tuniit) were not related at all.
It fascinates me how often the legacy of the Tuniit is glossed over and appropriated as ‘Inuit.’ ITK is especially egregious in this, using their legacy to claim a 5,000 year Inuit occupation of Nunavut, when in reality the ‘Inuit’ who occupy what we call Nunavut today arrived around 800 years ago.
Clearly, this is a complex topic and unfortunately articles like this are not written by serious anthropologists or historians.
Who owns these Inuit artworks?
Go do your research and report back to us.