The Centre for All Canadians

Shuvinai Ashoona’s ‘Mapping Worlds’ Conjures Mystical Creatures and Landscapes


Survey exhibition from Nunavut artist will show at CCAG June 8-September 22

Shuvinai Ashoona is best known for her highly personal and imaginative drawings, with imagery ranging from monstrous and fantastical visions to closely observed naturalistic scenes of her Inuit culture and home community at Kinngait, Nunavut.

Opening June 8 at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG), the exhibition Mapping Worlds features pencil crayon and ink drawings produced by the artist over the past two decades. Living in Kinngait on the southern tip of Baffin Island, Ashoona is part of Canada’s Inuit culture.

She is best known for her highly personal and imaginative iconography, with imagery ranging from closely observed naturalistic scenes of her Arctic home, to monstrous and fantastical visions.

“This rich survey of Shuvinai Ashoona’s works will allow audiences to encounter a fascinating and unique world view by an award-winning contemporary artist,” says CCAG Director, Kevin Rice.

“I also want to invite the public to a sneak preview of the exhibition with curator, Dr. Nancy Campbell, on Friday June 7 at 2 p.m. It will be an informal opportunity for Campbell to tour visitors through the exhibition while she is here for the installation.”

The artist’s work imagines the past and present fused into a prophetic future such as human-animal hybrid creatures, women birthing worlds, and mystical or other-worldly landscapes clearly inspired by the terrain of her northern home. Opposite to dystopic, Shuvinai’s brightly coloured drawings teem with life; and while her community occasionally clashes with the artist’s creatures, they often peacefully co-exist.

Today, TV series like The Walking Dead stimulate our fears of the unknown, the monstrous and the ‘other’ in a manner that risks increasing our xenophobia and provoking violence. Ashoona’s work speaks to these current anxieties, yet her artwork does not depict humans in opposition to the otherworldly. By appropriating images from her fascination with horror films, comic books and TV, Ashoona merges different imagery with everyday narratives to redraw the map of the boundaries between reality and fantasy, past and future.

The exhibition is curated by Nancy Campbell and Justine Kohleal and organized and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto. Sponsored by TD Bank Group and supported by major donors The Schreiber Sisters and Anonymous, the Canada Council for the Art and the Ontario Arts Council.

CCAG Summer Art Gala

The public is invited for the Summer Art Opening Gala on Saturday June 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the CCAG. There is no cost to attend, all are welcome, and there will be live entertainment and a chance to meet some of the featured artists and socialize in the Gallery!

Featured image: Shuvinai Ashoona, The World in her Eyes, 2011, Courtesy of TD Bank Group Art Collection.

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