In the tiny hamlet of Kinngait, Nunavut, Shuvinai Ashoona (b. 1961) is a pearl—an artist protected from the world at large, who relishes the daily routine and support of working at Kinngait Studios. She is the granddaughter of iconic Inuit artist Pitseolak Ashoona and the daughter of renowned sculptor Kiugak Ashoona. In the mid-1990s Shuvinai began producing detailed drawings that were made into lithographs, etchings, and stonecut prints. Her early works were primarily monochromatic depictions of natural landscapes and traditions of the North, but by the late 1990s, her attentions shifted to depictions of fantastical creatures, dream-like landscapes, and aerial-perspective representations of a global community, expressed in vivid colour.
“She creates highly imaginative representations of inner visions and otherworldly projections, building rich environments drawn from her surroundings, the people she loves, and the movies she watches.”Nancy G. Campbell
Shuvinai is an artist of superlative talent, her work characterized by full and elaborate depictions of the natural landscape and social networks of the North. Shuvinai Ashoona: Life & Work celebrates the influences of an artist whose rich graphic imagery conveys an intricate and textured interior world. Her distinctive style situates her in a category apart from other contemporary artists. Using pencil, pen and ink, and markers to render dense, highly imaginative representations of inner visions, transcendental projections, and the exterior world, her art reflects the intersection of values between the traditional North and the contemporary South.
Nancy Campbell has been an independent curator of contemporary and Inuit art since 1993, working for institutions including The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto and the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre at the University of Guelph. She holds a Masters of Arts from the University of British Columbia and is currently a PhD candidate at York University.
Banner: Shuvinai Ashoona, Creatures, 2015, ink and coloured pencil on paper, 96.5 x 127 cm, collection of Suzanne Lamarre.
Portrait: Photograph of Shuvinai Ashoona, c. March 2, 2005, photograph by William Ritchie.