KLEINBURG, ON.- The McMichael gallery
recently added three new works to its collection of Canadian contemporary art. With support from the Dr. Michael Braudo Fund of the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation, the McMichael acquired Tim Pitsiulak's Climate Change (2011), Annie Pootoogook's Composition (Christmas) (2006), and Jutai Toonoo's Thinking of Women (2012). The drawings were featured in the exhibition Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? Identity in Contemporary Cape Dorset Art, which ran at the McMichael from February 2 to June 16, 2013.
"These are three exceptional works by three unique contemporary Inuit artists," said McMichael Executive Director and CEO, Victoria Dickenson. "They speak to themes of culture and identity that are fundamental to our understanding of Canada's northern communities and Canadian society as a whole."
These new works will enhance the gallery's current collection of over 6000 works, which includes an important collection of Inuit prints, drawings, and sculptures, as well as the historic Cape Dorset archives of more than 100,000 works, on loan from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative.
"This acquisition demonstrates the McMichael's commitment to collecting and exhibiting contemporary works by talented Canadian artists who are making contributions to our country's rich and diverse artistic heritage," said McMichael Assistant Curator, Collections, Sharona Adamowicz-Clements.
Climate Change (2011) by Tim Pitsiulak is a powerful commentary about the changing Arctic environment and its implications for Inuit culture and identity. The drawing is of an Inuk man with close ties to the northern landscape. "The lines on one half of his face reveal something about him - his old age and perhaps the wisdom that comes with a long life; just as the crumbling ice forms on the other half of his face refer to the rapidly changing natural environment to which he belongs," said Adamowicz-Clements. This is Pitsiulak's second work to join the McMichael's permanent collection.
Born in 1967 in Kimmirut (Lake Harbour), Nunavut, Pitsiulak developed an early interest in jewellery-making and metalwork for which he earned a diploma from Nunavut Arctic College in 2007. He is a highly sought-after contemporary artist whose work has appeared on the cover of Inuit Art Quarterly (2008), and in exhibitions at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).
Composition (Christmas) (2006) by Annie Pootoogook highlights the intersection of traditional values and modern ways of life. It depicts an Inuit family, seated on the floor of their home, opening Christmas presents. "Pootoogook alludes to a traditional lifestyle by placing her subjects on the floor," explained Adamowicz-Clements. "But she shows them against a backdrop that includes elements from the "outside" world - wall clocks and calendars, light switches and electrical outlets."
Born in 1969, Pootoogook began drawing in 1997 under the encouragement of the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative in Cape Dorset. Her 2006 solo exhibition at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and subsequent win of the Sobey Art Award established her as a leading contemporary graphic artist.
Thinking of Women (2012) by Jutai Toonoo embodies the artist's desire to explore the inner life of his subjects. The drawing portrays Toonoo's friend and fellow artist, Ohotaq Mikkigak, surrounded by faceless female figures representing his thoughts. "Toonoo has been successful in giving a new voice to his community by challenging traditional assumptions about Inuit art," said Adamowicz-Clements.
Born in 1958, Toonoo lives and works in the Inuit settlement of Cape Dorset. He is an accomplished sculptor and jewellery-maker who began carving at the age of seven. His work can be found in private and public collections in Canada and abroad.
These acquisitions are part of the McMichael's on-going mission to showcase exceptional Canadian artists whose work contributes to a fuller understanding of Canadian culture and identity. This is the second recent acquisition by the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation Board, which also funded the purchase of the Arthur Lismer Collection of art and archival material.