Winner of Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award to be named in Winnipeg

(Courtesy Inuit Art Foundation)

The winner of the 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award will be named at 8pm local time on September 22 at a ceremony in Winnipeg. 

This year’s shortlisted artists are: Billy Gauthier from Newfoundland and Labrador; Maureen Gruben from the Northwest Territories; Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona from Ottawa; Kablusiak, an artist living in Calgary; and Ningiukulu Teevee from Nunavut.

The announcement will be made at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)-Qaumajuq museum in Manitoba. 

The winner of this year’s award will will receive $20,000, as well as a solo exhibition at the museum and a residency. The museum will also acquire one of the winner’s works into the WAG’s permanent collection.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Inuit Art Foundation on the Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award and expand on its offerings with a $20,000 grand prize, solo exhibition for the winner, catalogue, residency, and to acquire an artwork into our permanent collection,” Stephen Borys, the museum’s director & CEO, said in emailed comment from (WAG)-Qaumajuq.

“This partnership confirms future collaboration that will support Inuit artists working across all media and contribute to a strong future for Inuit art.”

Award named for trailblazing artist 

Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) is a renowned Inuk artist who lived most of her life in Cape Dorset in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. Her iconic images depicting Arctic animals and wildlife garnered her a worldwide reputation.

The biennial Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award was established in 2014 as a way to recognize and boost the visibility of mid-career Inuk artists.

The award is funded by donors and judged by an all-Inuit jury.

Artist profiles for this year's finalists:

Billy Gauthier: sculpter; grew up in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador and now lives in the Labrador town of North West River, 

Maureen Gruben: installation, performance, textile and sculpture; Inuvialuk artist raised in Tuktuuyaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Northwest Territories

Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona: multidisciplinary artist, working across media, including knitting, ceramics and prints; Ottawa, Ontario

Kablusiak: an Inuvialuk, urban-based artist currently living in Calgary, Alberta

Ningiukulu Teevee: graphic artist known for  modern reimagining of traditional stories featuring playful depictions of arctic animals and people; Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut

The shortlisted artists all receive $5,000 and had their work featured in a special exhibition at the WAG-Qaumajuq museum in Winnipeg. The exhibition, titled Anaanatta Unikkaangit (Our Mother’s Stories), was described by the museum as honouring “…  the stories, the work, and the care of mothers and grandmothers—like Kenojuak Ashevak—that guide contemporary Inuit art.”

“These five artists represent what is so exciting about contemporary Inuit art: though their practices are varied, they each have clear connections to their communities and they push forward what is possible for Inuit artists,” said  Heather Igloliorte, president of the Inuit Art Foundation, in emailed comment from WAG-Qaumajuq.

The exhibition of the 2021 award winner, Tarralik Duffy, opened at (WAG)-Qaumajuq earlier this month. 

Titled Gasoline Rainbows, the show features Duffy’s work known for its humour and pop culture references. 

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at) 

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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."

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