The study of Shuvinai Ashoona’s drawings from 1993 to 2008 offers an intimate look at the very foundations of her artistic approach. These are decades of transition and introspection for the artist. Shuvinai often draws on memories from her twenties, a period when she led a nomadic life with her family. The way she represents the landscape and the Nordic way of life is very personal and free from any specific documentary function. Her depictions of the landscape echo her inner life. The clean contour line, which later came to characterize her work, gradually appeared, eventually completely replacing the pointillist framework of her early drawings. Color makes timid appearances in her art. Shuvinai now lives in Kinngait, on the southern tip of Baffin Island. She produces her work at Kinngait Studios, the artistic arm of the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, a place that is rapidly becoming as much the center of her professional life as of her community. She depicts her immediate environment, continuing an artistic tradition begun by the Ashoona family, including her grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona (1904 – 1983) and her cousin Annie Pootoogook (1969 – 2016).
Shuvinai Ashoona: Early Works
Shuvinai Ashoona was born in 1961 in Kinngait, Nunavut, Canada. Solo exhibitions of Ashoona’s work have been organized at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2021), Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, Iqaluit (2013); MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (2012); Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa (2009); and Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (2006). Her work has been shown in group exhibitions at venues including the Esker Foundation, Calgary (2017); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2017); Mercer Union, Toronto (2016), National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2014) and SITE Santa Fe (2014). Her solo exhibition Mapping Worlds was presented at The Power Plant (2019) and then toured different institutions across Canada. in 2013 she was included in the prestigious Phaidon publication, “Vitamin D2. New Perspectives in Drawing”. Most recently, Shuvinai Ashoona received the 2018 Gershon Iskowitz Prize. Her art has been featured in the official curated section of the 2022 Venice Biennial “The Milk of Dreams”. She was awarded a special mention by the jury.