WAG Announces INUA, Qaumajuq’s Inaugural Exhibition
Presented by RBC, INUA Virtual Sessions will connect audiences from around the world
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty 1 Territory, February 26, 2021: The Winnipeg Art Gallery is excited to announce INUA, the inaugural exhibition of Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre, opening at the end of March 2021. Presented by RBC, INUA brings together more than 90 Inuit artists working across the Arctic and the urban south today. This milestone exhibition runs until December 2021.
For the first time ever, a curatorial team represents all four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the homeland of Inuit in Canada, including Nunatsiavut, Labrador; Nunavut; Nunavik, Quebec; and Inuvialuit Nunangit Sannaiqtuaq, Northwest Territories. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Heather Igloliorte, asinnajaq, Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, and Kablusiak, with support by a ground-breaking Inuit team including project manager Jocelyn Piirainen, WAG Assistant Curator of Inuit Art; Nicole Luke, Exhibition Designer; Mark Bennett, Graphic Designer, and Kayla Bruce, Educational Assistant.
- INUA–meaning “life force” in many dialects across the Arctic–is an acronym for Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut, or “Inuit moving forward together,” reflecting the curators’ collective vision for Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre.
- The exhibition is presented in Qilak (“sky” in Inuktitut), the awe-inspiring, third-level gallery with massive skylights that fill the 8,000-square-foot space with natural light, and Giizhig/Kisik (“sky, heaven, day” in Cree, Michif, and Ojibway), a focus gallery on the fourth level of Qaumajuq, overlooking Qilak. The monumental, sculptural walls evoke the immense geographic features that are the background of many Inuit towns and inlets.
- INUA features more than 90 Inuit artists from across Inuit Nunangat, as well other circumpolar regions including Alaska, and Greenland, and some living in the urban south. Emerging artists are celebrated alongside more established, senior, and elder artists. The full list of artists can be seen at wag.ca/inua.
- INUA includes approximately 100 artworks representing a wide range of media that challenges preconceptions of Inuit art, from digital media and installation art to mixed-media sculpture, painting, and photography.
- Ten new artworks commissioned for INUA are integrated with works from the WAG’s world-renowned collection of Inuit art and loaned pieces, spanning generations of artists.
- RBCxWAG: INUA Virtual Sessions will plug into the theme of futurism and enable you to experience the exhibition no matter where you are in the world. The exciting series of online programs featuring the artists and curators will take place bi-weekly starting in April: virtual meet-ups, panel discussions, storytelling, art-making workshops, and more. Watch for the full list of INUA Virtual Sessions at wag.ca/inua.
- An audio tour of the exhibition created through a partnership with the Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership project will include the perspectives of more than twenty Inuit and Inuvialuit from across Canada and further amplify the voices of the artists.
- Qaumajuq is the first art museum of its kind, bringing Inuit voices to the forefront, and dedicated to the art and culture of Inuit from Canada and beyond.
- The Inuit art centre will innovate the art museum, taking art from object to full sensory experience with Inuit-led programming, complementing and augmenting the cutting-edge art education that the WAG offers today.
- The new 40,000-square-foot-building designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture with Cibinel Architecture will connect to the WAG on all four levels, providing stunning exhibition, learning and event spaces; a revamped shop; plus a new café on the main level in partnership with Sparrow Hotels.
- The central feature is a three-storey Glass Vault, showcasing thousands of carvings. The public is invited to help build Qaumajuq by purchasing a shelf on the Visible Vault (details at wag.ca/qaumajuq).
“Qaumajuq’s inaugural exhibition is historic in itself as the first time a team of curators represents the four regions of Inuit Nunangat. INUA is forward-looking, inclusive, collaborative, and dynamic, setting the tone for the Inuit art centre. We thank and congratulate the curators and artists for sharing their amazing creativity. And we are grateful to RBC for not only coming on board as a major supporter of Qaumajuq, but for sponsoring this important show and increasing access to it through virtual programming.”
—Dr. Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, Winnipeg Art Gallery
“We are thrilled to finally be able to share INUA with the world, and especially with all the incredibly talented artists who have contributed to this exhibition. We’ve brought together artists from Alaska through to Greenland, highlighting the many distinct yet shared histories, practices and knowledge found throughout Inuit Nunaat. The works in INUA span almost a century of artistic production leading right up to the present, with more than ten new commissions and twice as many major national and international loans to compliment the important works drawn from both the WAG and GN collections. Together, these artworks celebrate our past, survey the present and speak to an exciting future for Inuit art. I think we’re making history.”
—Dr. Heather Igloliorte, Lead Curator of INUA and Co-Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Circle, Winnipeg Art Gallery
“Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut or INUA embodies the relationships we have created based on mutual respect. In our curatorial team we all have different skills, be it in art history, in museum collections or storytelling. We give space to each other’s thoughts and each one of us got a chance for our ideas to shine through and shape the exhibition.”
—asinnajaq, INUA co-curator, and member of Indigenous Advisory Circle, Winnipeg Art Gallery
“The time has finally arrived for INUA to be open for everyone to experience. We have worked purposefully, diligently and with care to represent Inuit artists as best we could. I am particularly excited to shine the spotlight on the range of media Inuit artists use in their art practices, bringing the gaze to where Inuit artists are breaking new grounds in their work. The range of Inuit artistry is amazing, and I hope our show inspires Inuit artists to continue expanding the bounds of Inuit art.”
—Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, INUA co-curator, and member of Indigenous Advisory Circle, Winnipeg Art Gallery
“I am excited for people to see a new side of Inuit art, a side that breaks the mold that has been created by non-Inuit for decades, and a side that Inuit have known intimately since day one. Our artwork has always been contemporary and groundbreaking, and I am excited for the public to experience how Inuit see ourselves, expressed through the work of so many talented artists.”
—Kablusiak, INUA co-curator, and member of Indigenous Advisory Circle, Winnipeg Art Gallery
RBC is a proud to present INUA upon the opening of Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre. This partnership ensures international exposure for the artists, amplifies their voices, and supports their career advancement. RBC’s investment in Qaumajuq is an investment in the community that will enrich and enhance Winnipeg and the North, while creating new opportunities for Inuit artists everywhere.
—Kim Ulmer, Regional President for Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Western Ontario, RBC
The WAG thanks Presenting Sponsor RBC, as well as supporter Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, Media Sponsor APTN, and Programming Partner Inuit Futures.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Amy Rebecca Harrison
Winnipeg Art Gallery
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 in the world. To celebrate the art and to honour the Inuit, the WAG is building Qaumajuq, the first of its kind. Opening in March 2021, the Inuit art centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making. To learn more visit wag.ca