2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. The first Cape Dorset print collection was released back in 1959 and we want to celebrate this incredible milestone.
“For our 50th anniversary, we looked back to celebrate everything we’ve accomplished. For this 60th anniversary, we’re using it to look forward and celebrate what’s ahead for the artists and the print program, as well as the national importance of Inuit art and the international reach that art continues to have.” 1
This year, Inuit art is reaching audiences all over the world with programming in Paris, France and Bern, Switzerland. Mapping Worlds, an exhibition of Shuvinai Ashoona’s pencil crayon and ink drawings, were on view at The Power Plant in Toronto until May 12, 2019. More of Kenojuak’s work will tour the country while an exhibition of Cape Dorset-based emerging and mid-career artists will travel through the United States and Europe.
Our exhibition, 60 Years, will feature a special selection of Inuit prints, drawings, and sculpture. The work will range from historical imagery to more contemporary subject matter.
Until recently, drawings were used almost exclusively as the creative foundation for printmaking. The annual print collections are the public face of Kinngait Studios. The source of there images are a vast collection of original drawings, known collectively as the archives. In the early years, people still living in the camps around Cape Dorset were given paper and pencils and asked to draw; almost everyone in the area turned up at the small craft shop with their first attempts. Some gave up eventually but many stuck with it, maturing as visual artists as the years passed. The archive is now a treasure trove of over 100,000 drawings by over 200 artists. In 1992, the collection was loaned to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection just outside of Toronto to be housed, documented and cared for.
In the last decade, Kinngit Studios has launched a revitalized drawing program, introducing new media and larger paper. Artists have flourished and exciting and challenging work has emerged from Cape Dorset in the past several years. Select galleries have focused almost exclusively on these contemporary drawings, opening the door for Inuit artists to join southern artists in creative collaboration and artistic exchange. 2
Visit the Dorset Fine Arts Website to learn more about their 60th anniversary celebrations here: https://www.westbaffin.com/new-page
1 Quinn, Ellis. “Arctic Canadian co-operative behind renowned Inuit art program celebrates 60th anniversary.” Eye on the Arctic, 8 January 2019, http://www.rcinet.ca/eye-on-the-arctic/2019/01/08/arctic-canadian-co-operative-behind-renowned-inuit-art-program-celebrates-60th-anniversary/?fbclid=IwAR0hJQ2JjIv0k-2iWgCw3MEL7PkCkiIvrgt4Xw2Eo0bw7cTBrrpw9lezTNc.
2 “Dorset Fine Arts,” http://www.dorsetfinearts.com/drawing-guide, (August 2019).