The Owls of Kenojuak Ashevak on display at Redeemer
Exhibition of Inuit artist's work to run until March 30
2 min. read
February 19, 2015

The Redeemer University College Art Gallery is pleased to host a collection of drawings by the late artist Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013). A Canadian national treasure, Ashevak is widely considered the most important pioneer of modern Inuit art. Her imagery has been displayed on Canadian stamps and coins, her life portrayed in books and films and her art sought all over the world by collectors, corporations and museums. The exhibition, “The Owls of Kenojuak Ashevak,” opened with a formal ceremony on February 6. The opening included a speech by Patricia Feheley, board director for the Inuit Gallery of Vancouver. A friend of Ashevak, Feheley reminisced about her many trips to Cape Dorset, Nunavut to see Ashevak. “This exhibition gives a new generation the opportunity to experience and be inspired by Kenojuak’s work, just as she inspired me and all those she met,” Feheley noted. The exhibition includes more than twenty original drawings featuring the owl, the iconic motif of Ashevak’s work. Included in this collection are a number of works that have hung in Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General of Canada and 24 Sussex Drive, the residence of the Prime Minister. “Redeemer is honoured to exhibit these iconic images by an artist whose imagery is so deeply inscribed into our Canadian cultural memory,” says Chris Cuthill, Chair of Redeemer’s Art Department. “Ashevak is not only an important figure in the development of First Nations art; she is one of the modern masters of Canadian art. With her bold colours and thoroughly contemporary reinvention of Inuit visual vocabulary, her playful and vivid compositions straddle the worlds of traditional Aboriginal culture and modern art.” A Christian artist, Ashevak received liturgical commissions from many churches. She also was the first Inuit to design a stained-glass window for a worship space, the John Bell Chapel in Oakville. Andrew Atagotaaluk, Anglican diocesan bishop of the Arctic, gives the meaning of Askevak’s owls a wider religious context. While it is conventional for many Christians to associate the Holy Spirit with a dove, he explains, “For Christians in the far north, the snowy owl is just as much a symbol of God’s presence.” The exhibition has been made possible through a partnership and cooperation with Earls Court Gallery. Earls Court curator Andrea Jackman prepared and installed the works. Jackman was assisted by fourth year art and theatre student Jennifer Hoogsteen. Reflecting on her experiential learning opportunity, Hoogsteen noted that, “It was amazing as an art student to be behind the scenes and a part of the process of hanging art so important to Canadian history.”

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