Shuvinai Ashoona

Shuvinai Ashoona is a graphic artist from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Ashoona first began drawing in the early 1990s when her younger sister encouraged her to go to the Kinngait studios [1]. Ashoona honed her artistic skills over the next couple of years by observing other graphic artists employed at the co-op.

In her early drawings she captured the natural world and the Arctic landscape that surrounded her. Ashoona’s subject matter underwent significant changes in the late 1990s and 2000s [2] becoming more personal and combining themes derived from Inuit culture and mythology, Christianity and southern culture. The resulting works on paper range from the quotidian to surreal, all of which demonstrate Ashoona’s attention to detail and formal complexity.

Ashoona is the subject of the 2010 documentary film Ghost Noise. Ashoona discusses how her imaginary scenes and creatures explore a range of themes from the politics of contemporary life in the North, of being a woman and of being an artist while at moments also evoking laughter. In Wiping Behind (2011) a human figure out on the ice and rock is caught in the awkward position of wiping their backside; Ashoona has depicted the surprised and pained expression of the subject who is caught with their pants down. In Monsters and Humans Embrace (2014) two rotund monsters, one yellow and the other purple, are flanked on either side by humans, arms over each others shoulders with a third mermaid like monster at the end of the line offering her fin to a third human. The absurdity of the scene is humorous while the symbiotic display of the humans and monsters in this imagined world is uplifting. 

Ashoona’s work is exhibited nationally and internationally and has been included in major exhibitions such as the 18th Biennale of Sydney: All Our Relations (2012) and Oh, Canada (2012) at Mass MoCA. Ashoona’s work is held in the public collection of major institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON and the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, U.S. to name a couple. She has appeared multiple times in the Inuit Art Quarterly. Her work was also included in Phaidon's 2013 catalogue, Vitamin D2: New Perspectives in Drawing, an international survey of contemporary drawing.

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Accomplishments

2010: Featured in Annette Mangaard's film Kinngait: Riding Light into the World.

2010: Subject of the film Ghost Noise directed by Marcia Connolly.

 


Citations/Footnotes

1. David Balzer, “Shuvinai Ashoona,” The Believer 9, no.9 (2011), accessed November 2, 2016, http://www.believermag.com/issues/201111/?read=interview_ashoona. 
2. Bingham, “Shuvinai Ashoona,” The Canadian Encyclopedia Website.