To Be 'Forward-Looking, Inclusive, Dynamic'
Heather Igloliorte is the lead curator for the inaugural exhibitions
at the Inuit Art Centre, set to open in 2020. (photo by Ruth
Bonneville - Winnipeg Free Press)
It may not have any walls yet, but the Winnipeg Art Gallery's
history-making Inuit Art Centre has its first curators.
On Thursday, the gallery announced the all-Inuit, four-woman
team who will curate the inaugural exhibitions at the Inuit Art
Centre, which is set to open in 2020. The $65-million centre will
boast 40,000 square feet of exhibition, learning, research and studio
space. A three-storey glass vault, showcasing 7,500 Inuit carvings,
will serve as the heart of the centre.
Dr. Heather Igloliorte, who was in Winnipeg for Thursday's announcement,
will lead the team. Originally hailing from Nunatsiavut, Igloliorte
is an assistant professor in the department of art history at Concordia
University in Montreal, as well as the co-chair of the gallery's
Indigenous Advisory Circle.
Her curatorial team will be rounded out by Asinnajaq, an Inukjuak,
Nunavik-born, Montreal-based filmmaker, curator and writer; Jade
Nasogaluak Carpenter, a Yellowknife-born, Calgary-based artist and
curator; and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, the Chesterfield Inlet-raised,
Rankin Inlet-based curator of Inuit art for Nunavut's Department
of Culture and Heritage.
"The inaugural exhibitions of the Inuit Art Centre will be forward-looking,
inclusive, collaborative and dynamic," Igloliorte said. "We hope
to create a space for the appreciation and celebration of the north
in the south, while maybe even surprising audiences with the depth
and breadth of contemporary Inuit art today, from digital media
and installation art to mixed-media sculpture, music and photography."
The team's vision, Igloliorte said, is to curate exhibits that
span not only artistic mediums and generations from emerging
artists to elders but geographical regions as well. To that
end, the curatorial team represents all four regions of Inuit Nunangat:
the Inuvialuit region of the western Arctic; the territory of Nunavut;
Nunavik, Quebec; and Nunatsiavut, Labrador.
Nasogaluak Carpenter (from left), Krista Ulujuk Zawadski,
Asinnajaq, Dr. Heather Igloliorte will make up the Inuit
Art Centre's all-Inuit, four-woman first team of curators.
"Having four Inuit curators representing all of Canada's Inuit
regions in a major exhibition is unprecedented in the country's
history," the gallery's director and CEO Stephen Borys said. "Setting
the tone for the WAG's Inuit Art Centre, this curatorial force will
bring into focus Indigenous voices, to share their stories nationally
and around the globe. Offered here, in Winnipeg, is a new forum
for international cultural dialogue."
It's a well-known piece of local trivia that the gallery is
already home to the world's largest collection of Inuit art, numbering
some 13,000 pieces. Currently, the gallery only has space to display
a fraction of that. But the Inuit Art Centre will be more than a
dedicated space to show that vast collection it will also
provide an opportunity, as Borys said, for the gallery to reimagine
its role in the community.
Igloliorte, meanwhile, believes the Inuit Art Centre could be
a centralized hub for Inuit art and artists.
"We're going to be able to connect to each other in a way that's
been unprecedented," she said. "We don't have many places where
we can get together regularly and really share what we're doing
in our art."
She also hopes the centre inspires more Inuit to pursue careers
in cultural institutions there are very few Inuit curators
in Canada, and the dearth of universities up north makes studying
in fields such as art history a challenge.
Igloliorte also believes the Inuit Art Centre is an important
bridge between the north and the south, between Inuit and the non-Indigenous,
First Nations and Métis people of Manitoba.
"We're in Winnipeg, and we have the world's largest collection
of Inuit art but this is not the place where the world's
most Inuit live," she said. "We're on Treaty One Territory, we're
on the Métis homeland. I think there's a real opportunity
here, for us to bring together Manitoba's First Nations and Métis
people and Canada's First Nations Métis people in a real,
meaningful conversation with the Inuit, who are our northern neighbours."