Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset Celebrates 50 Years of Printmaking
Ottawa (Ontario) - October 15, 2009
October 16, 2009 – January 17, 2010
National Gallery of Canada pays tribute to Kinngait Studio Artists
This year, Cape Dorset—or Kinngait as it is locally known in Nunavut—celebrates 50 years of making prints. In tribute to this significant anniversary and the continued dynamism of the Kinngait Studios artists today, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) presents Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset Celebrates 50 Years of Printmaking, an exhibition of 86 works on paper. Organized by the NGC in collaboration with Dorset Fine Arts, the arts division of Cape Dorset’s West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, the exhibition is on view until January 17, 2010 in the Prints, Drawings and Photographs Galleries. Access to the exhibition is included with admission to the NGC, which is free on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm.
Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset Celebrates 50 Years of Printmaking showcases the inaugural suite of prints created in 1959 alongside a number of contemporary prints, including those created for the 2009 collection. As well, a selection of original 1959 drawings, exhibited publicly for the first time, and contemporary drawings offer an opportunity to appreciate the new courses being charted by Cape Dorset’s artists. The opening of this exhibition coincides with the launch of the Cape Dorset 2009 annual collection.
“This exhibition is exceptional because it pairs more recent and innovative work with the very first collection of Cape Dorset prints,” said NGC Director, Marc Mayer. “The 1959 collection is being shown in its entirety, likely for the first time in five decades, thanks to a generous loan from collector Douglas Steiner. We are honoured to host many of the artists who will be present at the opening of this exhibition and extend a special thank you to Dorset Fine Arts, for collaborating with us on this exciting project.”
Uuturautiit – pronounced “oo-to-raw-tee”
“Uuturaqtu”, or “uuturautiit” in the plural, is the Inuktitut term used in Cape Dorset for proofing a print, the crucial, creative and experimental stage before the print is finalized. It means “to try different things”. The artists of Cape Dorset have been doing exactly that for over 50 years, combining their skill and artistry in a fascinating and prolific body of work that defines their commitment to experimentation.
The inaugural prints of 1959
In the summer of 1956, the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources sent art supplies and building materials for a craft centre to Cape Dorset. Before long, a small group of Inuit artists began to experiment with print techniques, learning from one another by trial and error. Three years of experimentation in linocut, stonecut and stencil culminated in the inaugural 1959 collection. Remarkable in their elegance and outstanding quality, the prints are a testimony to the artists’ individual styles and technical skill already apparent at this early stage. Their immediate success led to the formation of the community-owned West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, incorporated in 1959 and also celebrating 50 years. As Kananginak Pootoogook, one of the first printmakers and first President of the Co-operative, says, “The arts have kept our community alive, and printmaking has made the Co-op famous.”
Kinngait Studios Today
The contemporary works in this exhibition reflect five decade of workshops, collaborations and artistic exchange. To the initial printing processes have been added engraving, serigraphy, lithography, etching and aquatint. The work itself builds on traditional imagery, but in recent years a more innovative stream has emerged that also reflects the contemporary realities of life in Cape Dorset. The spirit of experimentation has always been the guiding principle behind the work of the studios, and an unwavering commitment to the creative process has ensured their international success.
The National Gallery of Canada extends special thanks to its partners
The National Gallery of Canada acknowledges the generosity of its partners: The Inuit Relations Secretariat, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, for their support of the exhibition; First Air, for flying the artists to Ottawa; and Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa, for providing the artists with accommodation. The Gallery also thanks its media partners, CBC Television, la Télévision de Radio-Canada, The Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit.
As patron of Cape Dorset’s jubilee anniversary, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada provides the opening message of the accompanying exhibition catalogue. With essays by Nunavut artists Kananginak Pootoogook and Ningeokuluk Teevee; Associate Curator, Indigenous Art, NGC, Christine Lalonde; co-curator and Director of Dorset Fine Art, Leslie Boyd Ryan; and collector Douglas Steiner, this 80-page fully-illustrated bilingual catalogue is available at the NGC’s Bookstore or and at www.ShopNGC.ca, the Gallery’s online boutique. Cost: $22.95.
Meet the Artist and Meet the Curator
Sunday October 25 at noon – Walk through the exhibition with artist Annie Pootoogook, and Christine Lalonde, Associate Curator of Indigenous Art. Included with Gallery admission.
Sunday, October 25 at 2 pm – In conjunction with its fall exhibitions, the NGC presents a triple-feature film screening: The Life and Work of Daphne Odjig, Ghost Noise: A Short Film with Shuvinai Ashoona and Annie Pootoogook. Included with Gallery admission.
Adults: $9; seniors and students: $7; youth (aged 12-19): $4; families (2 adults, 3 youth): $18. Free for children under age 12 and members of the NGC. Admission is free to everyone on Thursdays after 5 pm.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm; Thursdays until 8 pm. Closed Mondays, except Monday October 12 (Thanksgiving) and Monday December 28. Open at noon on Wednesday, November 11 (Remembrance Day). Closes at 4 pm Thursday December 24, closed on Friday December 25 (Christmas Day) and Friday January 1 (New Year’s Day).
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art in the world. In addition, it has pre-eminent collections of Indigenous, Western and European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, American and Asian Art as well as drawings and photography. Created in 1880, it is among the oldest of Canada’s national, cultural institutions. As part of its mandate to make Canadian art accessible across the country, the NGC has one of the largest touring exhibition programs in the world.
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