Toronto gallery next stop for travelling Kenojuak Ashevak exhibition

The Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy exhibition at its stop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Courtesy West Baffin Cooperative)

A travelling exhibition featuring the works of renowned Canadian Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak will make its next stop at Toronto’s Urbanspace Gallery where it will run January 19 to March 25.

The gallery is the sixth stop on the show’s tour.

Bringing Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy to Urbanspace Gallery at is an ideal location for this exhibition,” William Huffman from the West Baffin Cooperative told Eye on the Arctic

“The gallery’s unique mandate of community building through creative thinking is remarkably aligned with Kenojuak’s creative contribution to Kinngait, and the historically vital role of art making in the West Baffin region.”

Iconic artist 

Kenojuak Ashevak was part of the first generation of artists to come through the print program in the village of Kinngait (then known as Cape Dorset) in Canada’s eastern Arctic.

The community of Kinngait in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. (Eilís Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)

The program’s roots go back to the 1950s when Canadian artist James Houston moved to the community and taught local Inuit how to draw and make prints. 

Starting in 1959, the prints produced in Cape Dorset were released in an annual collection. The images of arctic nature and Inuit life became a hit in the art world and a favourite of collectors. 

The collections made Ashevak a superstar of Canadian art with many of her images, such as Enchanted Owl, becoming iconic and appearing on everything from stamps to money.

Exhibit showcases works from archives

Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy is made up of 31 drawings and three prints from the archives of the West Baffin Cooperative, the local co-op established in 1959.

Kenojuak Ashevak’s felt tip pen and coloured pencil drawing Six-Part Harmony. (Courtesy West Baffin Cooperative)

Prior to the show, the works had not been exhibited. The images are also accompanied by objects and anecdotes contributed to by Kinngait community members related to Ashevak’s work and contributions.

The show opened at the Kenojuak Culture Centre in 2018 in Ashevak’s home community of Kinngait. 

Pingwartok Ottokie, the president of the West Baffin Cooperative, said this sixth stop for the show is another occasion to share the art out of Kinngait with the rest of the country,.

“This exhibition launched its national journey at the artist’s namesake venue, Kenojuak Cultural Centre in Kinngait,” Ottokie said in a news release. “As the show continues its national tour, we are very pleased to share this tremendous gift with with our friends and extended family across Canada.”

The Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop in Kinngait, Nunavut where Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy was first shown. (Courtesy West Baffin Cooperative)

Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy was previously shown in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Dawson City, Yukon; Sudbury, Ontario; Kelowna, British Columbia; and Medicine Hat, Alberta.

After the Toronto exhibition, the show will head to four venues in eastern Canada, starting with the English Harbour Arts Centre in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Art gallery in Yellowknife visitor centre set to host full roster of shows in 2023, CBC News

United StatesGwich’in-language short film explores connection with land in award-nominated series, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *