Shunivai Ashoona – Curator’s Choice Spring 2024

The recent announcement of Shuvinai Ashoona’s remarkable achievements are to be celebrated given that she’s now a distinguished recipient of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts (GGArts) for Artistic Achievement. This prestigious acknowledgment commemorates Ashoona’s artistic journey spanning over 20 years and acknowledges her pivotal role in reshaping the world of Inuit art.

Born in Cape Dorset in August 1961, Shuvinai Ashoona is the daughter of Kiawak Ashoona and Sorosilutu, esteemed figures in Cape Dorset’s artistic community. Her artistic odyssey commenced in 1996, marked by a profound connection to the landscape surrounding her hometown. Working primarily with pen and ink, coloured pencils, and oil sticks, Ashoona’s recent creations exude a deeply personal touch, often characterized by meticulous detail.

Reflecting on her creative process, Ashoona shares;

“When I start to draw, I remember things that I have experienced or seen. Although I do not attempt to recreate these images exactly, that is what might happen. Sometimes they come out more realistically, but sometimes they turn out completely different. That is what happens when I draw.”

These words, drawn from Ghost Noise,” a documentary directed by Marcia Connolly, offer a glimpse into the spontaneity and depth of Ashoona’s artistic expression.

Ashoona’s artistic journey gained early recognition with her inclusion in the Cape Dorset annual print collection in 1997, featuring two evocative dry-point etchings titled “Interior (97-33)” and “Settlement (97-34).” Since then, she has emerged as a dedicated and prolific graphic artist, contributing daily to the vibrant tapestry of creations at the Kinngait Studios.

Her artistic prowess has captured the attention of esteemed galleries and institutions, with notable exhibitions such as “Three Women, Three Generations” at the McMichael Canadian Collection in 1999, alongside her aunt Napachie Pootoogook and grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona.

In the Spring 2008 issue of Border Crossings, Ashoona was featured alongside Qavavau Manumie of Cape Dorset and Nick Sikkuark of Gjoa Haven, further solidifying her place in the contemporary art landscape.

In 2016, Ashoona was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, marking a significant milestone in her illustrious career. Decorated with numerous awards, including the 2018 Gershon Iskowitz Prize, she continues to captivate audiences with her evocative landscapes and intimate portrayals of human experiences.

Whether through her mesmerizing landscapes or her poignant depictions of everyday moments, Shuvinai Ashoona leaves art enthusiasts spellbound and craving more.

Coastal Peoples Gallery is honoured to showcase her work and eagerly anticipates her future endeavours.