This small print “Camp Site by Shuvinai Ashoona” is from the 2008 Cape Dorset Print Collection.
When I start to draw I remember things that I have experienced or seen. Although I do not attempt to recreate these images exactly, that is what might happen. Sometimes they come out more realistically but sometimes they turn out completely different. That is what happens when I draw.
-Shuvinai Ashoona (From “Ghost Noise”; Produced and directed by Marcia Connolly)
Shuvinai was born in Cape Dorset in August, 1961. She is the daughter of Kiawak Ashoona and Sorosilutu, both well known for their contributions to the arts in Cape Dorset.
Shuvinai began drawing in 1996. She works with pen and ink, coloured pencils and oil sticks and her sensibility for the landscape around the community of Cape Dorset is particularly impressive. Her recent work is very personal and often meticulously detailed. Shuvinai’s work was first included in the Cape Dorset annual print collection in 1997 with two small dry-point etchings entitled Interior (97-33) and Settlement (97-34). Since then, she has become a committed and prolific graphic artist, working daily in the Kinngait Studios
Shuvinai’s work has attracted the attention of several notable private galleries as well as public institutions. She was featured along with her aunt, Napachie Pootoogook, and her grandmother, the late Pitseolak Ashoona, in the McMichael Canadian Collection’s 1999 exhibition entitled “Three Women, Three Generations”. More Recently she was profiled along with Qavavau Manumie of Cape Dorset and Nick Sikkuark of Gjoa Haven in the Spring 2008 issue of Border Crossings, a Winnipeg-based arts magazine.
In an unusual contemporary collaboration, Shuvinai recently worked with Saskatchewan-based artist, John Noestheden, on a “sky-mural” that was exhibited at the 2008 Basel Art Fair and was shown again at Toronto’s 2008 “Nuit Blanche”. It later traveled to the 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012 and in 2013 it was part of ‘Sakahans’ an exhibition of international Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada. In 2009 her work was presented alongside Toronto-based artist Shari Boyle at the Justina Barnicke Gallery at Hart House. Shuvinai is also the subject of a documentary art film, Ghost Noise, produced and directed by Marcia Connolly.
Shuvinai is slowly gaining more international attention and in 2013 she was included in the prestigious Phaudin publication, ‘Vitamin D2. New Perspectives in Drawing’. Shuvinai will be represented at SITElines 2014 Unsettled Landscapes in Sante Fe, New Mexico.
“Camp Site by Shuvinai Ashoona” is a lovely introduction to the world of Shuvinai Ashoona.
Bio Shuvinai Ashoona
Medium: DRAWING, PRINTMAKING
Artistic Community: Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU
Date of Birth: 1961
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 . 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  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.
2010: Featured in Annette Mangaard’s film Kinngait: Riding Light into the World.
2010: Subject of the film Ghost Noise directed by Marcia Connolly.
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.
Shuvinai Ashoona Holding on to Universes
February 7 — March 22, 2020 Centre for Contemporary Arts
February 22 – March 28, 2020 Marion Scott Gallery
Kinngait Studio Returns
September 30 – November 4, 2019 Highpoint Center for Printmaking
June 8 – Sept 22, 2019 Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG)
If I have a body
May 31 – Sept 2, 2019 Remai Modern
Shuvinai Ashoona: We End Up Dreaming
Jan – Feb 2019 Feheley Fine Arts
June – July 2018 Feheley Fine Arts
Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) 4th Edition: Níchiwamiskwém | Nimidet | Ma sœur | My sister
May 3 – July 22, 2018 La Guilde
Shuvinai Ashoona: Mapping Worlds
Jan 26 – May 12, 2018 The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
Shuvinai Ashoona: Curiousities
Mar – Apr 2017 Feheley Fine Arts
Nov 2016 – Feb 2017 Mercer Union
Earthlings: Roger Aksadjuak, Shuvinai Ashoona, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Shary Boyle, Jessie Kenalogak, John Kurok, and Leo Napayok
Jan – May 2017 Esker Foundation
Portraits, Self and Others (It’s Complicated)
Sept – Oct 2016 Western McIntosh Gallery
Rock, Paper, Scissors
May – July 2016 Art Gallery of Guelph
Feb – April 2016 Art Gallery of Mississauga
Floe Edge: Contemporary Art and Collaborations From Nunavut
Jan – Mar 2016 AXENÉO7
Contemporary North II
Nov – Dec 2015 Madrona Gallery
Out of Line
June – Sept 2015 Oakville Galleries
Cape Dorset Prints and Drawings
Apr – May 2015 Michael Gibson Gallery