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Traditional Stories: Unikkaaqtuat/Modern Stories: Unikkaat

August 28, 2010 to January 20, 2011

 

Traditional Stories: Unikkaaqtuat/Modern Stories: Unikkaat explores storytelling as an essential element of Inuit oral cultural traditions as well as playing a significant role as a source for their visual imagery.

Traditional stories or unikkaaqtuat which are retold from generation to generation may vary in the retelling but they provide narratives that address aspects of Inuit history, the spiritual nature of the people, and other beliefs.

The modern stories or unikkaat are more recent. These stories may address an individual’s experience or provide a commentary on changes within contemporary Inuit experience. Both of these narrative forms express the ethics, attitudes and ideals of the culture.

Stories can define a place and people. They offer a sense of collective experience that mythologizes the region while shaping an awareness of cultural identity that helps to bind a people. This exhibition will include graphic and sculptural works by Kenojuak Ashevak, Abraham Anghik Ruben, Pitseolak Ashoona, Napatchie Pootoogook, Pitaloosie Saila, and many others. Traditional stories focusing on cultural heroes, the role of the shaman, tales of Sedna, a powerful spirit of the sea and accounts of other spirits reveal ideas and historic values of the Inuit – their beliefs about the land and their relationship to nature. Some modern stories address the challenges faced by individuals related to their day-to-day existence as well as other aspects of their own life experience or offer observations about the changes that have occurred in Inuit society. Stories provide the “social memory” associated with a place. They imbue a sense of meaning that informs and maintains the collective identity of the inhabitants of the locale. These cultural narratives are not static.

Population demographics, social awareness, political and economic pressures introduce shifts in cultural perspectives. The dynamics of these external factors on a people result in adaptations in the worldview and the subsequent stories that are told. The Inuit have  emonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of  accelerated change in the North. Their response to these changes is reflected in the visual stories that they tell.

This exhibition is developed by the McMichael’s Assistant Curator, Chris Finn, and will be on display until January 20, 2011, with rotations of new graphic works every three months.

 

Pitaloosie Saila (born 1942)
Taleelayo #2
1974
stonecut on paper
Overall: 62 x 87.4 cm
Collection of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative Ltd., on loan to the McMichael
Canadian Art Collection
CDP.16.65.1
Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts

Spirit of the Raven by Kenojuak Ashevak

Kenojuak Ashevak (born 1927)
Spirit of the Raven
1979
stonecut and stencil on paper
Overall: 60.7 x 73.8 cm
Collection of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative Ltd., on loan to the McMichael
Canadian Art Collection
CDP.40.154.1
Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts

 

Spirit Helpers by Kenojuak Ashevak
Kenojuak Ashevak (born 1927)
Spirit Helpers
1989
lithograph on paper
Overall: 57 x 76.2 cm
Collection of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative Ltd., on loan to the McMichael
Canadian Art Collection
CDP.40.218.1
Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts

 

 

 

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