Winnipeg Art Gallery unveils new sculpture | Polarjournal
The new marble carvings greet visitors at “Qaumajuk”, WAG’s Inuit Art Centre. The Tuniigusiia sculpture is meant to represent how knowledge is passed on through education and storytelling, and the important role teachers play in the Inuit communities. (Photo: Winnipeg Art Gallery)

The time has come – after three years of construction, the new Centre for Inuit Art in Winnipeg is finished. Due to the current Covid-19 situation and restrictions, the opening is postponed to a date yet to be determined. Qaumajuq. Qaumajuq Quamajuq comes from the Inuit language of Nunavik in Arctic Quebec and means something like “it is bright / shining”. A group of representatives of the Inuit, Métis and First Nations decided on this name.

The Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) has been given its new name. It will be “Qaumajuq,” an Inuktitut word meaning “it’s bright/it’s light”, celebrating the light coming into the new building designed by architect Michael Maltzan. (Photo: Winnipeg Art Gallery)

The building planned by the architect Michael Maltzan is an extension to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, located on Treaty No. 1 First Nations lands, in the heart of Winnipeg in southern Manitoba, Canada. It offers around 740 square meters of exhibition space for an inventory of over 14,000 works.

These include the collection of several thousand pieces of modern and contemporary Inuit art from the Nunavut Territory, which are on loan in Winnipeg. With Qaumajuk a cultural bridge is built between the north and the south of Canada, as it is curated by the Inuit themselves.

Goota Ashoona was born in Cape Dorset in 1967 and is a third generation artist from one of the leading families of artists. Many of her works are held in major collections. Today, Goota lives in Yellowknife with her husband Robert Kussy and twin sons Joe and Sam. (Photo: Winnipeg Art Gallery)

At the end of January, even before the opening, a highlight has been presented outside the building. A huge sculpture by the artist Goota Ashoona made from green Verde Guatemala marble. The title of the work, Tuniigusiia (“The Gift”), is about 2 meters high and weighing more than 9 tons, one of the largest Inuit sculptures ever created.

The title refers to the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. Ashoona comes from a family of artists and many of their works can be found in the Qaumajuq. The work was commissioned by the Manitoba Teacher’s Society “to pay tribute to all the teachers who surround us.”

The video shows the placement of the work of art and lets the artist speak.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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