Shuvinai was born in Cape Dorset in August, 1961. She is the daughter of Kiawak Ashoona and Sorosilutu, both well known for their contributions to the arts in Cape Dorset.
Shuvinai began drawing in 1996. She works with pen and ink, coloured pencils and oil sticks and her sensibility for the landscape around the community of Cape Dorset is particularly impressive. Her recent work is very personal and often meticulously detailed. Shuvinai’s work was first included in the Cape Dorset annual print collection in 1997 with two small dry-point etchings entitled Interior (97-33) and Settlement (97-34). Since then, she has become a committed and prolific graphic artist, working daily in the Kinngait Studios
Shuvinai’s work has attracted the attention of several notable private galleries as well as public institutions. She was featured along with her aunt, Napachie Pootoogook, and her grandmother, the late Pitseolak Ashoona, in the McMichael Canadian Collection’s 1999 exhibition entitled “Three Women, Three Generations”. More Recently she was profiled along with Qavavau Manumie of Cape Dorset and Nick Sikkuark of Gjoa Haven in the Spring 2008 issue of Border Crossings, a Winnipeg-based arts magazine.
In an unusual contemporary collaboration, Shuvinai recently worked with Saskatchewan-based artist, John Noestheden, on a “sky-mural” that was exhibited at the 2008 Basel Art Fair and was shown again at Toronto’s 2008 “Nuit Blanche”. It later traveled to the 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012 and in 2013 it was part of ‘Sakahans’ an exhibition of international Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada. In 2009 her work was presented alongside Toronto-based artist Shari Boyle at the Justina Barnicke Gallery at Hart House. Shuvinai is also the subject of a documentary art film, Ghost Noise, produced and directed by Marcia Connolly.
Shuvinai is slowly gaining more international attention and in 2013 she was included in the prestigious Phaudin publication, ‘Vitamin D2. New Perspectives in Drawing’. Shuvinai will be represented at SITElines 2014 Unsettled Landscapes in Sante Fe, New Mexico.
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. -Shuvinai Ashoona (From “Ghost Noise”; Produced and directed by Marcia Connolly)
Image copyright: William Ritchie