WAG Exhibition Traces Development of Inuit Art

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is known internationally as the home of the largest collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world which it has been collecting since 1957. It is only fitting, therefore, that the WAG celebrates this wonderful collection during its Centennial year. Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art will have a free public opening at 7pm, Friday, January 25. It will continue on view until April 14.

“The collection of Inuit art held by the Winnipeg Art Gallery is extraordinary by any standard,” says Executive Director Stephen Borys. “Its geographic range, diverse media, and size have brought international renown to the collection of 13,000 artworks, and this exhibition reveals its true scope and breadth.  It features many of the Gallery’s treasures of Inuit sculpture, prints, drawings, and textile art. Charting dramatic transformations over six decades, this is a celebration of creative expression in the Arctic.”

Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art describes the genesis and evolution of contemporary Inuit art from its inception to the present day: from carvers in the 1950s, such as Johnny Inukpuk, to later storytellers in stone, such as Davidialuk Alasua Amittu, and in whalebone, such as Karoo Ashevak;from pioneer graphic artist Jessie Oonark to artists working today in new and personal idioms, such as Shuvinai Ashoona. 

“The exhibition offers insight into some of the defining moments of Inuit art,” says Darlene Coward Wight, Curator of Inuit Art. “The artistic developments, the influential artists and artistic advisors, the new media explored—all the things that have shaped and transformed the art over six decades.”

The book accompanying the publication, written and edited by Coward Wight, includes essays by art historians Susan Gustavision, Ingo Hessel, Christine Lalonde, and Norman Vorano. Illustrated by 150 colour and archival images, it constitutes a new historical narrative of contemporary Inuit art.  It is available in the Gallery Shop. 


Sunday Drop-in Tours • 2am
Feb 3, 10, 17, 24 / Mar 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Symposium—Inuit Art: Trajectories of Transformation • Fri, Jan 25
Leading artists, art historians, and curators will gather for a one-day symposium to discuss the history of Inuit art and the work of several key contemporary Inuit artists. Registration is now open and available at wag.ca or by calling 204.786.6641, ext 227.

Inuit Film Night • Sat, Jan. 26 • 7pm
Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos •  A documentary produced by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril about her journey to explore the lost tradition of Inuit facial tattoos. Admission is free for symposium delegates. For all others it is included with Gallery admission.

Art Eats • Fri, Feb 8 and Fri, Mar 1 • 6-9pm
Dinner at Storm Bistro followed by an exhibition tour.

Art Eats—Special Edition • Fri, Feb 22 and Fri, Mar 22 • 6-9pm
Join Darlene Coward Wight, Curator of Inuit Art, for a more in-depth and specialized look at this exhibition.

Art for Lunch • Wed, Feb 13 • 12:10pm • Inuit Odyssey (44 min video)
Anthropologist Niobe Thompson takes a visually stunning journey across the North tracing the origins of the modern Inuit in an Arctic odyssey from Siberia to Greenland.

Art for Lunch • Wed, Feb 20 • 12:10pm • Treasure from the Far Fur Country (video)
Hudson’s Bay Company Archivist James Gorton presents a special screening of rarely seen films documenting the HBC’s activities and First Nations communities in the Canadian north in the early 20th century.

Arctic Adventure Family Sunday • Sun, Mar 17 • 1:20-4pm
Have fun and learn about Inuit art and culture.

Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art is sponsored by TD Bank, the Northwest Company, First Air, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, CBC, CTV, 99.9 BOB FM, and the Winnipeg Free Press.


The Winnipeg Art Gallery is celebrating its Centennial year with an unparalleled series of exhibitions, programs, and events promoting the power of art in life. As Manitoba's leading art museum, the WAG is home to over 26,000 works of art spanning ten centuries, including the world's preeminent collection of contemporary Inuit art.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is grateful for the support of the following Centennial sponsors: BMO Financial Group, The Winnipeg Foundation, the Department of Canadian Heritage, TD Bank, James Richardson & Sons Ltd., MTS Allstream, Johnston Group, Air Canada, RBC Royal Bank, PACART, Great-West Life, Friesens, Manitoba Culture Heritage and Tourism, City of Winnipeg, Investors Group, Scotiabank, Volunteer Associates of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Storm Bistro, Manitoba Lotteries Corporation, Ernst & Young, Fort Garry Hotel, KPMG, Lawton Partners, Loewen, Parrish & Heinbecker, Aikins Law, AON, Cambrian Credit Union, Manitoba Blue Cross, National Leasing, CP Loewen, North West Company, NRG Management. Media sponsors: Winnipeg Free Press, CTV, CBC, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, 103.1 Virgin Radio, 99.9 BOB FM, Doowah Design, Visual Lizard, Esdale Printing, Radio-Canada, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg, Midcan Production Technologies. 

For the latest WAG updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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For information, please contact:
Debra Fehr
Manager, Communications and Marketing

Heather Mousseau
Communications Coordinator
204.786.6641, ext 211





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