Heather Campbell

Heather Campbell is an artist, curator and educator originally from Kikiak (Rigolet), Nunatsiavut, NL currently residing in Ottawa, ON, where she is a curatorial Assistant in the Indigenous Art Department at the National Gallery of Canada. Her art practice encompasses painting, drawing, photography and printmaking. Campbell pursued a BFA at Wilfred Grenfell College of Fine Art at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1996.  During the course of her education, Campbell began to think critically about what she wanted to convey with her work and which techniques and materials would best reflect her identity as a contemporary Inuit artist [1].

Campbell grew up in a tight-knit community surrounded by tradition and nature. As a result, the Arctic landscape, flora and fauna are recurrent subjects in her work. While she explores themes surrounding the interrelations between humanity and the natural world, she imprints them with her particular outlook and dynamic visual language. “Berries, roots, veins and brain synapses come pouring out onto the page”, the artist said in reference to her pieces [2]. In Geraniums (2014), one is faced with an explosion of flowers. The geraniums Campbell grew up with and that continue to bloom in her family’s summer home now flow freely on paper. Campbell rejects the pervasive idea that “authentic” Inuit art must be restricted to traditional materials and conventions [3].

Campbell is also interested in the intersections between aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures. She is inspired by the complexity of hybrid identities and the tensions that emerge from personal and external definitions of the self. In her practice, she intertwines her knowledge of Inuit and non-Inuit worlds with her personal experiences to produce work the straddles tradition and contemporaneity. Campbell also makes use of ink, oil, stone paper, and digital photography in her works. Feeling constrained by formal stylistic conventions, Campbell began experimenting with the process of inkblot [4]. She drips ink and water on paper or canvas, allowing abstract forms to emerge naturally. Once the surface is dry, she makes images more discernable with the aid of a pen [5]. Campbell describes this process as an attempt, “to turn off my conscious mind and allow my subconscious mind to draw what it sees [6].”

Her works are part of numerous private and public collections including the ones owned by the National Aboriginal Health Organization, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Carleton University, the City of Ottawa and the Nunatsiavut Government. She has participated in various exhibitions including Nigi Mikàn - I Found It: Indigenous Women's Identity (2013) at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the nationally touring exhibition SakKijajuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut (2016-2018. She has also showcased her work abroad in the Contemporary Inuit Art Exhibit (2010) in Nuuk, Greenland and her work Early Break-up (2013) was featured on the cover of the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of Inuit Art Quarterly. In addition to her artistic practice, she often takes part in events and workshops. Campbell is also a curator, having worked for the Inuit Art Centre of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada prior to her current post.



Citations/Footnotes

1.Heather Campbell, “A biography of sorts and musings on Inuit Art,” Campbell Art, accessed October 16, 2016, http://www.campbellart.ca/about. 
2. Brit Gallpen, “In the Absence of the Cooperative: Labrador Inuit Artists and Southern Art Schools,” Inuit Art Quarterly 28, no.3-4 (Fall-Winter 2015): 46.
3. Campbell, “A biography of sorts and musings on Inuit Art.” 
4. “Heather Campbell”, Nunatsiavut Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, accessed October 16, 2016, http://www.michnunatsiavut.org/heather-campbell.html
5. Ibid.
6. Campbell, “A biography of sorts and musings on Inuit Art.”