To open their group exhibition ‘Aggakta Sanajangit’ at L.A.Pai gallery in Ottawa, two artists will be doing a drum dance together. Simon Kadlutsiak of Hall Beach, and Jonas Audlakiak of Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut learned to make and use their own drums last year; they were taught by elder and master drummaker David Serkoak of Arviat. It is a special honour for these two friends from the Jewellery & Metalwork Program at Nunavut Arctic College to open the exhibition for the eight jewellery artists with a welcoming Drum Dance of celebration.
About the show:
September 2015 united students from various communities in Nunavut with a common dream; they each had a desire to learn Jewellery and Metalwork at Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit. Some were carvers wanting to add to their skills, some had tried jewellery in a workshop, some wanted a change, and all were excited to begin the two year diploma program. Students were taught metalworking skills; they were also taught Inuit Culture and Art History, Business, Drawing and Inuktut Language. This exhibition is a celebration of their achievement: stunning works in metal telling northern stories.
Artists in Nunavut are given the profound task of being guardians of their cultural history. As elders tell stories, artists celebrate tradition in their work. Tools, clothing, animals, tattoos and other symbols of Inuit life are often used in the jewellery designs. Narwhal and Walrus ivory and baleen from Bowhead Whales are sometimes integrated into the metal jewellery pieces, bringing together northern imagery with products of the hunting culture.
Artists are integral to the healing, the rebuilding, and the rejection of colonialism; for most, their work simply cannot be separate from tradition at this point in Nunavut’s history. At the same time, each jewellery artist must find their own contemporary style. The developing artists, searching for their own designs and sharing in the revival of their culture, find intense pride and excitement as their new skills become a tool for the expression of both shared memory and individual vision. When the resulting jewellery is worn, it is a beautiful statement of Inuit talent. Ellen Fraser, Instructor Jewellery and Metalwork Program, Nunavut Arctic College.