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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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How Lucy Qinnuayuak’s Print Crosses Cultures and Geographic Lines

Inuit Art Foundation | December 03, 2021

Categories: news

Exploring the Global Affairs Canada Visual Art Collection

Representing our great country abroad is a true privilege and can take many forms, from classic closed-door diplomacy to exchanges of emotion through art and advocacy. Today’s cultural ambassadors may not have letters of credentials hanging on their walls, but their impact is real and valued. Such is Inuit artist Lucy Qinnuayuak (1915–1982), who was one of the first artists to create graphic works at Kinngait Studios during the 1960s.

When I arrived in Sydney in 2020 to start my assignment as Consul General of Canada, I was surprised to discover the rich collection of Inuit art on exhibition at the Consulate. I re-acquainted myself with Qinnuayuak’s work, which is also represented in the collection of our Embassy in Denmark, my previous assignment abroad. A rich selection of Inuit art in Copenhagen is expected, where our shared Arctic connections with the people of Greenland is part of our daily work. But here I am, literally at the other polar end of the world, experiencing the same emotions through Qinnuayuak’s work.

Qinnuayuak was born at an outpost camp near Salluit, Nunavik, QC, and moved with her mother to Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, at a young age following the death of her father. She married graphic artist and sculptor Tikituk Qinnuayuak (1908–1992) and began to draw. In the 1960s, Qinnuayuak started work at Kinngait Studios. 

Along with other first-generation artists from this innovative studio, Qinnuayuak depicted Inuit oral histories, culture and daily life in the twentieth century. Qinnuayuak and her contemporaries created stonecut and stencil prints, using clean sharp lines with thick areas of colour set against open expanses of paper. The stonecut medium allowed Inuit artists the freedom to depict narrative scenes in a playful manner, using vibrant colours and various compositional structures.

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