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WAG Announces Indigenous Advisory Circle

Winnipeg, Manitoba, March 23, 2017: The Winnipeg Art Gallery is pleased to announce Dr. Julie Nagam and Dr. Heather Igloliorte as co-chairs of the newly formed Indigenous Advisory Circle. The Circle will give voice to Indigenous people (Inuit, First Nations and Métis), and provide leadership and counsel in the development and planning of related WAG exhibitions, education, community outreach, partnerships, and programming. The formation of the Circle is critical to guide the WAG through the transformation it is experiencing in the lead up to the opening of the new Inuit Art Centre.

The Circle will be made up of representatives from the four regions of Inuit Nunangat: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut. Urban Inuit and circumpolar Inuit communities, such as Alaska and Greenland, will also be included, along with First Nations and Métis representatives from Manitoba and two national members working in the arts field.

Each member will bring knowledge and experience from their specific communities to inspire, connect, and educate the public through enhanced exhibitions and programs. The Advisory will develop Gallery spaces and activities that acknowledge Indigenous contributions, and provide the WAG with welcoming and accessible programing for all people, North to South.

Dr. Nagam is the Chair in the History of Indigenous Art in North America, a joint appointment at University of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Art Gallery, and is an Associate Professor in Art History at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Igloliorte is the University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement and Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Art History at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

This year the WAG will start construction on the Inuit Art Centre, a new 40,000-square foot, four-storey building adjoining the Gallery’s current facility. In partnership with Indigenous groups, the Centre will offer ongoing education in Indigenous history, culture, and art. Through interactive experiences and collaboration with the North, the Centre will build on the timely cultural renaissance that is recognizing Indigenous contemporary art on the national and international stage.

Quick Facts:

  • The Circle will address the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Actions; create roles for Indigenous peoples contributions; showcase the diverse and exciting work of Indigenous artists in Winnipeg, Canada, and the world; and seize the opportunity to create innovative opportunities for the presentation, collection, and scholarship of Indigenous art.
  • Meeting annually, the Circle will consist of 12-15 advisors, plus WAG curators, staff, and the Director & CEO.
  • Established in 1912, the WAG is Canada’s oldest civic gallery and holds the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, supported by an unparalled record of exhibitions, publications, and research in Inuit art.
  • The Gallery’s collection comprises 27,000 works (13,000 Inuit pieces) ranging from Canadian and Indigenous art to European and American art in all media.

About the co-chairs:

Julie Nagam (Métis, Syrian-German) is the Chair in the History of Indigenous Art in North America, a joint appointment at University of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Art Gallery. Originally from southern Manitoba, Nagam is a published scholar and curator with a strong background in innovative research and teaching. Her research, curatorial, and artistic practices are grounded in concepts of Native space, and she continues to explore different methodologies in cartography, art, and geography to bring forth distinctive epistemological views. Another focus of her work is to unpack the tensions between Indigenous and colonial histories within the politics of technologies in the context of digital and new media art. Read her full bio here.

Heather Igloliorte (Inuit, Nunatsiavut, Labrador) is an Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Art History at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, where she holds a Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement. Igloliorte has been an independent curator of Inuit and other Indigenous arts for twelve years; her curatorial, teaching, and research interests centre on circumpolar and Native North American art studies, performance, and media art, the global exhibition of Indigenous arts and culture, and issues of colonization, sovereignty, resistance, and resilience. Some of her recent curatorial projects include the nationally touring exhibition SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut (2016); the permanent exhibition Ilippunga: The Brousseau Inuit Art Collection at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (2016); and Decolonize Me (Ottawa Art Gallery, 2011-2015). Read her full bio here.


“The WAG is striving to be at the forefront of a cultural resurgence as Canadian society increasingly recognizes the importance of Indigenous knowledge and its role in fostering a greater understanding and respect amongst all peoples. Drs. Julie Nagam and Heather Igloliorte are supporting the work of Indigenization at the Gallery, and along with the Advisory Circle, they will provide valuable counsel and direction as we work towards an expanded dialogue and healing through the power of art and artmaking. The development of the Inuit Art Centre will help greatly with this important work in Winnipeg and across the country.”
—Dr. Stephen Borys
Director & CEO, Winnipeg Art Gallery

“The Winnipeg Art Gallery is undergoing a ground-breaking transformation and we are excited to lead the way for Winnipeg to be the centre of Indigenous Contemporary Arts in Canada and abroad. At the same time we need to continue to break down barriers and open up spaces for dialogue, reflection and engagement. The City is at a pivotal moment where Indigenous artists could radically transform public space, galleries and museums. The Inuit Art Centre and the WAG can support this shift and scholarship by creating new templates of unprecedented Indigenous methods, ideologies, and community involvement in museum practices.”
—Dr. Julie Nagam
Chair in the History of Indigenous Art in North America, University of Winnipeg/Winnipeg Art Gallery

“I am thrilled to participate in the formation and direction of the WAG’s Indigenous Advisory Circle. I view the significant inclusion of Inuit leadership and participation from across Inuit Nunangat as a groundbreaking step forward in the creation of the Inuit Art Centre, which will represent Inuit art and artists from all eras, regions, and media. I look forward to working with the Inuit and other Indigenous advisors on envisioning a radical new way of thinking through Inuit art of the past, present and future, and engaging in meaningful collaborations with the Advisory Circle and WAG staff towards this exciting transformation.”
—Dr. Heather Igloliorte
Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement, Concordia University


Associated Links
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Inuit Art Centre

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

Tammy Sawatzky
Public Relations Coordinator
Winnipeg Art Gallery

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate – a lens and a forum – helping people see and experience more through art. Playing a vital role in the community, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds, the Winnipeg Art Gallery thrives as a creative and accessible place for learning, discovery and inspiration through art, with a particular focus on Inuit art and culture.


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