Kenojuak Ashevek was the first Inuit artist elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art.

Inuit Art Traveling the World

ICTMN Staff
2/4/11

From a Nunavut hamlet, to a small New Jersey town, to far-flung Asia, Inuit art is making the rounds in February and March.

A small town right outside Trenton is the unlikely host of a collection of prints and drawings by Inuit artists from the hamlet of Cape Dorset, in Canada, from a studio long known for its art.

Through March 2 an exhibit at the College of New Jersey, “Contemporary Inuit Art from Cape Dorset,” is featuring 26 works by 11 artists from the Kinngait Studio in the hamlet, known as the capital of Inuit art.

The artwork ranges from the whimsical to the fantastical, the College of New Jersey said, from a print by Shuvinai Ashoona of a boy in brightly colored clothing doing a handstand, to the owl with radiating feathers done by Kenojuak Ashevak.

“Commonalities of approach, technique and subject matter that result from shared experience and close working quarters are clearly apparent in the exhibited works, but so too are the unique points of view and distinct hand of each artist,” said Sarah Cunningham, College Art Gallery director, in a press release. Works include multigenerational pieces such as prints by a mother and her son, the release said.

Meanwhile, halfway across the world, the Canadian Museum of Civilization is showcasing Inuit print making in the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. “Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration” includes Inuit art from Cape Dorset and gives a nod to James Houston, credited with both introducing Japanese prints to the Arctic 50 years ago (and thus inspiring this particular Inuit art genre) and “discovering” Inuit art.

The exhibit, which will remain in Tokyo until mid-March and then travel the world, explores Japanese influences on Cape Dorset’s print making by displaying rare, early Cape Dorset prints and some of the actual Japanese prints that inspired the Inuit artists.

“By juxtaposing the works, the exhibition reveals the many ways in which the Cape Dorset artists creatively ‘localized’ Japanese influences,” the museum said in a release.

“The exposure to Japanese printmaking gave the Inuit a new form of cultural expression, and they soon gave the world an original, distinctive and exciting genre of graphic arts,” said Victor Rabinovitch, president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corp., in a statement. “This is a wonderful example of the outstanding benefits of cultural interaction and adaptation, and we are proud to share this exhibition with visitors in Japan, and around the world.”

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