ICA Miami presents “Shuvinai Ashoona: Drawings,” the artist’s first US museum presentation featuring a series of enigmatic drawings and prints observing the evolution of indigenous Arctic life.
Shuvinai Ashoona (b. 1961, Kinngait, formerly Cape Dorset in Nunavut, Canada) comes from a long line of Inuit carvers and printmakers—her parents, Kiugak Ashoona and Sorosilooto Ashoona, were distinguished artists, as was her grandmother, Pitseolak Ashoona, and a cousin, Annie Pootoogook. She began drawing in 1996 and maintains a daily practice in the collective setting of Kinngait Studios at the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative, a space shared by community artists.
Using a series of dynamic formal resources, from a foreshortened perspective and uncanny aerial views to mismatching scales and mise-en-scène, her often large and strange drawings and meticulously worked prints focus on the people around her and Arctic life as it has shifted from living off the land to settled communities, registering everyday activities such as seal cleaning, clam digging, Christmas celebrations, and yoga classes. Other drawings reproduce the landscape that Ashoona inhabits and with which she maintains a close relationship. This imagery includes rock-strewn riverbanks, the arid tundra, endless spreads of snow, and the animals that are familiar to Inuit life—walruses, seals, and fish. These creatures and these landscapes, however, can turn into menacing, cavernous settings and enigmatic tentacular forms, often grafted to human bodies, that populate a strange and eerie world. The drawings also incorporate imagery from popular culture and horror films, Biblical references, traditional Inuit motifs, and perspectives that can be associated with satellites and other machines (television arrived at Kinngait in 1981). The drawings map a rich and imaginative world that grants Ashoona’s work an exceptional place within contemporary Inuit artistic production.
Ashoona has exhibited her drawings at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow; Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto; Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum Iqaluit; Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa; Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton; and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; among other institutions. She has participated in SITE Santa Fe, the Quebec City Biennale, and the Sydney Biennale. Her work can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC; Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, Quebec; University of Toronto; Art Gallery of Guelph; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and Winnipeg Art Gallery. She is the recipient of the 2018 Gershon Iskowitz Prize and in 2017 was appointed to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
This exhibition is organized by ICA Miami and curated by Gean Moreno, Director of the Knight Foundation Art + Research Center.
Exhibitions at ICA Miami are generously supported by the Knight Contemporary Art Fund at The Miami Foundation. Additional support is provided by Chandra and Michael Rudd, Florida Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, and National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support for Shuvinai Ashoona's catalogue is provided by Jackie and Larry Kamin.