WAG Presents First Retrospective of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti

WAG Presents First Retrospective of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti
Yuusipik’s famed mother, Jessie Oonark, featured in concurrent exhibition from Baker Lake

Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 14, 2018: Born in the Back River area north of Baker Lake, Nunavut, artist Mary Yuusipik Singaqti became well known for her wall-hangings and carvings. But Winnipeg Art Gallery Curator of Inuit Art, Dr. Darlene Coward Wight, was “blown away” to discover a collection of her coloured-pencil drawings. Some of these incredibly detailed pieces are featured in the new exhibition, Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories, which opened last weekend and runs until March 10, 2019.

A second exhibit, Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake, opens at the WAG this Saturday, bringing together wall hangings by nine artists, most of whom are women. Nivinngajuliaat, or “wall hanging” in Inuktitut, includes work by Mary Yuusipik’s acclaimed mother, Jessie Uunaq (Oonark). The exhibition is guest curated by Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, Curator of Inuit Art for the Government of Nunavut Fine Art Collections. Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake is on view from November 17, 2018 through spring 2019.

The two exhibitions connected by both family and land will be celebrated at a free opening for the public on Friday, November 30 (7-10pm), 2018 at the WAG.

Quick Facts

  • Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories is the first solo exhibition of the artist who was born in a remote inland region north of Baker Lake. It features 26 captivating drawings recently purchased by the WAG, as well as striking wall hangings and sculptures.
  • Yuusipik (1936-2017) belonged to the last generation of Inuit to experience the inland nomadic way of life that centred on fishing and hunting caribou. Her artistic motivation was to show her life, “I want the younger generation to know about me, how we used to live [and] how life was before.”
  • Established as a permanent settlement in the 1950s, Baker Lake is situated at Canada's geographical centre and is home to some of the most stunning wall hangings in the world.
  • Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake celebrates one community’s mastery of the medium with wall hangings dating from the 1970s to the 1990s. The exhibition is largely made up of works from the Government of Nunavut Fine Art Collection, on long-term loan to the WAG, with a selection from the Gallery’s holdings.
  • Featured artists include Dr. Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq, Naomi Ityi, Victoria Mamnguqsualuk Kayuryuk, Miriam Qiyuk, Jimmy Taipanak, Winnie Tatya, Marion Tuu’luuq, and Jessie Uunaq (Oonark).
  • The public is invited to celebrate the launch of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories and Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake, along with three more new WAG exhibitions, on Friday, November 30 from 7:00 to 10:00pm.
  • The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and houses over 27,000 artworks spanning centuries, media, and cultures, including the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.


In December 2014 I visited Yuusipik in her Baker Lake home to hear and record the stories she depicts in her art works. They are panoramas filled with details from the life of her inland Utkuhiksalingmiut Inuit, in the most remote region of the Canadian Arctic. Yuusipik explained each drawing in detail and revealed a fascinating life of both happiness and extreme hardship. Her stories are in the exhibition and in the accompanying catalogue.
—Dr. Darlene Coward Wight, WAG Curator of Inuit Art and curator of Mary Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories

With Baker Lake’s long history of art production, it is refreshing to see these works pulled from the vaults so that we may admire the intricate skills of the artists and perhaps be drawn into the stories the artist tells in each piece. Further, coordinating this exhibition is a great example of the partnership created between the Government of Nunavut and the WAG.
—Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, Curator of Inuit Art for the Government of Nunavut Fine Art Collections and guest curator of Nivinngajuliaat from Baker Lake

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Catherine Maksymiuk
Manager, Media & Marketing
Winnipeg Art Gallery

About the Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. The WAG holds in trust the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art on earth. To celebrate the art and to honour the Inuit, the WAG is building the Inuit Art Centre, the first of its kind in the world. Set to open in 2020, the Centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making. 



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