By Jesse Boily,
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie is now displaying an award-winning textiles show from Inuit artists and printmakers.
Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios shows the work of Inuit artists and printmakers from Kinngait (Cape Dorset, Nunavut) from the 1950s to the 1960s.
“It was an artistic experiment, and it was exploring different techniques, different machines, different types of material, and then exploring telling their own stories through these themes of animals and lands and people,” said Manar Abo Touk, AGGP curator of exhibitions and collections.
The exhibit won the 2021 Governor General’s History Award for excellence in museums for its remarkable contribution to a better knowledge of Canadian history, says the AGGP.
The exhibit originally opened at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, and had to close down due to the pandemic, said Abo Touk.
She visited the museum to work with the curator at the textile museum to see if they could bring the exhibit to Grande Prairie.
Abo Touk explained the show came to the textile museum by chance when a box fell in the archives, and the textile museum realized they found something special.
Research began to find out where the textiles came from, and a partnership was formed with West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative.
Now with the textiles in the AGGP, it offers viewers a unique look at the textiles that no one has seen in over 60 years.
The textile museum has low ceilings and could not show the textiles’ full extent.
“Originally, these pieces were supposed to be long, and for public view, so we were able to kind of play with our massive ceilings and our walls and be able to install the pieces to their heights,” said Abo Touk.
“The exhibition is told in seven different sections, and every section has a cinematic idea of what the artists were thinking about when creating that specific piece,” she said.
She noted that the exhibit was in seven different gallery spaces at the textile museum.
“I was trying to figure out how am I going to tell the story in our space” said Abo Touk, noting that the gallery space at AGGP was much larger and open.
The team at AGGP then got to work creating more walls to create a similar flow to how the exhibit was shown at the textile museum.
The exhibition includes over 60 textiles, paper prints, textiles that demonstrate other Inuit graphic art traditions, and archival photographs.
The AGGP received $40,000 from the city in capital funding and $30,000 to the Prairie Gallery Society for exhibitions and promotion of the exhibitions.
Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios is on view at the gallery until Sept. 18.
Jesse Boily is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the TOWN & COUNTRY NEWS . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI government funding.