Canadian debut of "Our Land" showcases rarely seen Inuit art

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Canadian debut of "Our Land" showcases rarely seen Inuit art
Kenojuak Ashevak (Canadian (Cape Dorset), 1927 2013) Iqqaluiit (School of Fish), 1996 lithograph on paper Government of Nunavut Fine Art Collections, On long-term loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, 997.3.15 Photographer: Ernest Mayer.

WINNIPEG.- The Winnipeg Art Gallery is presenting a powerful exhibition of treasures from the Government of Nunavut’s Fine Art Collections. Our Land: Contemporary Art from the Arctic broadly showcases Inuit art and culture through an impressive selection of work, some not seen in Canada since before Nunavut was established.

Our Land – which means “Nunavut” in Inuktitut – transports visitors to the vast and beautiful Canadian Arctic through nearly 100 artworks drawn from the outstanding collection of the Government of Nunavut. Recently on long-term loan to the WAG, the entire collection numbering close to 7,300 pieces was brought to Winnipeg earlier this year through a unique partnership between the Governments of Nunavut and Manitoba together with the WAG.

“The partnership with the Winnipeg Art Gallery is a unique opportunity for collaboration. The Our Land opening features some rarely seen pieces from the Government of Nunavut Fine Art Collections,” states George Kuksuk, Minister of Culture and Heritage for the Government of Nunavut. “The department looks forward to our continued association with Manitoba on these types of initiatives which we believe shall have long-term positive outcomes for Nunavummiut, residents of Manitoba and all Canadians.”

After the creation of Nunavut in 1999, the collections of art, archives, and artifacts from the Northwest Territories (NWT) were assessed, and ownership of the material from the eastern Arctic was transferred to the new territory of Nunavut. Much of the collection continued to be stored in the NWT at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife. The partnership between the WAG and the governments of Nunavut and Manitoba allows the world to experience a collection that very few people – even those in the North – have had the opportunity to see.

“We are very excited about the opportunities Manitobans will have to embrace the incredible artwork produced in Nunavut,” said Rochelle Squires, Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage for the Province of Manitoba. “Through this exciting partnership we can learn from the artists whose unique style has captured the lifestyle and traditions of the north.”

The Our Land exhibit was co-organized in 2004 by the Government of Nunavut and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts to great acclaim, called "stunning" by The Boston Globe. In its first Canadian presentation, the exhibit is expanded by the WAG – home to the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art anywhere – to include an even wider selection of carvings, prints, artifacts, photographs, films, and textiles.

“The Winnipeg Art Gallery is proud to present this magnificent celebration of Inuit art and culture with Canada and the world,” says Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO. “It is an honour to bring the collection out of storage and share Our Land with visitors. We sincerely thank the Government of Nunavut for their amazing collaboration and support. We are also grateful to the Government of Manitoba for their continued partnership in making the long-term loan possible.”

Exciting programs are being offered in conjunction with the exhibition.

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