WAG to Exhibit First Retrospective of Oviloo Tunnillie
Winnipeg, Manitoba, May 11, 2016: The Winnipeg Art Gallery is pleased to showcase the first retrospective exhibition of carvings by Oviloo Tunnillie. The artist is one of the most respected Inuit sculptors from the Canadian Arctic and one of very few female carvers to achieve international success. Oviloo Tunnillie: A Woman’s Story in Stone opens May 21 and runs until September 11.
“Oviloo Tunnillie was a leader in Inuit art. Her early decision to become a stone sculptor is indicative of her independence from artistic and social conventions, challenging longstanding gender stereotypes within the community,” comments Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO. “The trajectory of Tunnillie’s work, the evolution of her subject matter, and her hard fought personal battles are all a testament to her fortitude. The WAG is proud to showcase her work.”
The exhibition features 67 sculptures drawn from private and public collections in Canada and the U.S. Tunnillie was a prolific carver with a distinctive modern style characterized by curvilinear, fluid shapes. Her earliest work is a typical genre of finely-crafted birds and sea life, but in the 1980s she became known for less conventional themes, such as athletes and and exploited women. Tunnillie created sculptures dealing with social issues, including alcoholism, that affected her own life and her focus on nude figures, marked a distinctly new departure for an Inuit artist, male or female.
“In the 1990s, women became Oviloo Tunnillie’s central imagery and were generalized rather than portrayed in traditional clothing,” states Darlene Coward Wight, WAG Curator of Inuit Art and exhibition curator. “Her feminist vision broadened notions of Inuit art and revealed stone carving as a powerful medium for women.”
Tunnillie's work is part of the WAG’s collection of contemporary Inuit art, the largest of its kind in the world. Using the art as a vehicle, the WAG is working to create the Inuit Art Centre to celebrate and engage with Inuit art and Indigenous cultures through exhibition, research, education, and art making. It will also house the WAG’s nationally recognized Studio art and learning program.
The WAG is grateful for the sponsorship of the Dorothy Streslin Foundation, John and Joyce Price, and media sponsor Winnipeg Free Press. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue.
On May 25, Wight will present an Art for Lunch talk. Guided drop-in tours will be offered May 22, 28; June 11; July 3, 23; August 20; and September 4. To view all programming details, visit wag.ca.
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