Nunavut Post

Friday, September 29, 2023

‘Their creation is still here even though they’re not’: Inuit artist honors family heritage


Key takeaways: 

  • Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona’s art will be included in an approaching display at the Art Gallery of Guelph.
  • Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona stated seeing her family’s art at the Art Gallery of Guelph was profoundly inspiring.
  • “Seeing that their creation is still here even though they’re not, and now I get to see what they were accomplishing and create new pieces, is vital to their heritage.”

Inuit artist Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona praises family’s legacy: 

When Ottawa-based multidisciplinary artist Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona has rewarded a creative research residency with the Art Gallery of Guelph, she was keen to peek through the gallery’s collection for stimulation. 

In the archives, she saw something very near to home.

“They have a massive collection of art from massive names … and they also have creation by my great-grandmother Jessie Oonark and my grandmother Victoria Mamnguqsualuk.” Source –

Oonark was a prominent Inuit artist known for innovative and colorful work. Mamnguqsualuk, who died in 2016 and whose creations have appeared in almost 100 exhibitions in Canada and internationally, shared Kabloona’s love of art with her from the beginning.

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Artists from Inuit recalls their families artwork after seeing at the Art Gallery of Guelph

Kabloona has enjoying memories of many childhood visits to Baker Lake, Nunavut, where the two of them would spend time together.

“She was at home a lot, performing on her artwork,” stated Kabloona. “She would make me a parka if I requested her to.” “She only communicated Inuktitut, and I only spoke English, so we didn’t have very in-depth talks. But I did spend a lot of time with her.” Source –

Kabloona recalls how her grandmother’s art was “everywhere in her residence” — even stacked up on top of the freezer — and how keen she was to share it. Source –

But Kabloona had no idea she would see her family’s creation at the Art Gallery of Guelph and was pleased to rediscover the prints, sketchbooks, and wall hangings she considers may have been donated to the gallery by a collector. 

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