The art and artists of Canada’s Arctic

In the days before mass media reached the remote corners of Canada, before things like Twitter and Facebook, the art and artists of Canada’s Arctic were the main conduit for northerners to communicate their culture and communities to the rest of the world.

From the first generation of artists like Order of Canada recipient Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) to contemporary iconoclasts like the late Jutai Toonoo (1959- 2015), these artists pushed boundaries, exploring everything from traditional culture and family life, to the climate and social change going on in their communities.

Since 2010, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn has been travelling to these artists’ studios to talk to them about their techniques and their inspiration, their communities and their collaborations.

Here, you can find their conversations, all in one place, and learn more about the printmakers, graphic artists and carvers responsible for some of the most internationally recognized art out of Canada.

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THE MENTOR – Louie Nigiyok

Louie Nigiyok is a printmaker and artist from the Inuit community of Ulukhaktok (Holman), in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn sat with him to discuss his art, his inspirations and the rich history of Holman’s print program.

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THE REBEL – Jutai Toonoo

Artists often say they create art for themselves and don’t care what other people think. But when Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn tracked down Jutai Toonoo working in Nunavut’s Kinngait Studios in 2010, we got the sense that he really, really meant it.

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THE PIONEER – Kenojuak Ashevak

The iconic prints of late Canadian artist Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) almost single-handedly came to define Arctic art both in Canada and on the world stage. In this 2010 conversation with Eye on the Arctic, Ashevak talks about her work, her success and what she really thinks about the next generation of northern artists.

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Is the Holman print program worth saving? – The evolution of the arts economy in Canada’s North

ULUKHAKTOK (Holman), Northwest Territories – Louie Nigiyok, a printmaker and artist from this remote Inuit community in Canada’s western Arctic, starts his days pretty much the way that he always has since the 1980s. He wakes up and makes his way to the local print studio, now housed at the Ulukhaktok Arts Centre.

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