A Q&A with the curators of INUA

Project Spotlight: An all-Inuit curatorial team reflects on Qaumajuq’s inaugural exhibition.

ᓄᓇᖃᖅᑳᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ ᐱᒋᔭᖏᑦ ᓴᖅᑭᑎᑦᑎᓂᖅ ᑭᒡᒐᖅᑐᐃᔩᑦ
A view of the exhibition INUA shows visitors exploring an installation inside a shipping container, a series of wall-hangings, and an installation styled to look like the interior of a living room.

Qaumajuq’s inaugural exhibition is historic in itself—for the first time ever, a curatorial team represents all four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the homeland of Inuit in Canada, including Nunatsiavut, Labrador; Nunavut; Nunavik, Quebec; and Inuvialuit Nunangit Sannaiqtuaq, Northwest Territories. INUA brings together more than 90 Inuit artists working across the Arctic and the urban south. Visitors to Qaumajuq see 100 artworks, from digital media and installation art to mixed-media sculpture, painting, and photography, setting the tone for the new Inuit art centre. 

A view of the exhibition INUA shows visitors exploring an installation inside a shipping container, a series of wall-hangings, and an installation styled to look like the interior of a living room.

In partnership with Inuit Futures, INUA Online invites everyone to explore the works in the exhibition; through stories and artist’s perspectives; from anywhere in the world.

We spoke to INUA’s curatorial team on what Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut (“Inuit Moving Forward Together”) means to them:

INUA is an acronym for Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut (“Inuit Moving Forward Together”). What does this concept embody for you? 


We work together because one person cannot do it all on their own. We create relationships based on mutual respect, and constantly acknowledge that we all receive events and information in different ways. As such, one might imagine their own mind as an echo chamber. Thus, a singular world gets exponentially bigger each time another voice and perspective is heard and made to be a part of another’s world. When we work together we are creating a network of worldly experiences, of knowledge of so very much. In our curatorial team we all have different skills, be it in art history, in museum collections, or storytelling. We give space to each other’s thoughts and each one of us gets a chance for our ideas to shine through and shape the exhibition. 



The concept of our exhibition for me brings to the surface how Inuit work together and cooperate to survive and thrive, and I think it is a beautiful core value to carry on.

An installation featuring 4 densely-patterned wall-hangings on a yellow wall, with a mannequin at centre wearing a tunic with colourful flowers appliquéd on it.

How does INUA bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary practices in Inuit art and art at large? 

Dr. Heather Igloliorte:

We have conceptualized the exhibition as highlighting a long continuity of Inuit artistic brilliance and innovation, rather than contrasting “past”’ and “present” practices, or “traditional” and “contemporary” art practices. Is a neon parka made of space-age materials in your great grandmother’s pattern, handed down through generations, traditional or contemporary? How would we classify a multi-media motorcycle sidecar that depicts a powerful spirit from our millennias-old oral histories as either from the past or present? The works in INUA, and indeed all Inuit artworks, connect us to our ancestors before us, Inuit as we are collectively today, and to those yet to come. We are so excited to share this vision for the future of Inuit art, and for Inuit and all audiences to see Inuit art through our eyes. 


Looking back to the formation of INUA‘s curatorial team in early 2018, how has your vision for the show evolved over time? What has the journey been like?

Krista Ulujuk Zawadski:

I think our vision for the show has stayed pretty close to what we envisioned early on. There have been slight changes, but I think we were clear from the beginning that we wanted to make a strong statement that supports Inuit art and Inuit artists as a whole. The biggest thing that has changed is we have gotten to know each other more, because we didn’t know each other well at the beginning. Our team has worked together very well, and it has been one of our strengths as a team.

Various wall-hangings by Inuit artists are installed in a grid-like formation on a white wall.
Installation view of wall-hangings by various artists in INUA at Qaumajuq, Winnipeg Art Gallery . COURTESY WINNIPEG ART GALLERY-QAUMAJUQ. PHOTO: DAVID LIPNOWSKI.



WAGxRBC INUA Virtual Sessions

To accompany the exhibition, Qaumajuq has produced a variety of online programs featuring the artists and curators, enabling visitors to experience the show no matter where theyare in the world: virtual meet-ups, panel discussions, storytelling, art-making workshops, and more. Watch for the full list of INUA Virtual Sessions happening every month at wag.ca/inua.

INUA is curated by Dr. Heather Igloliorte, asinnajaq, Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, and Kablusiak, with support by a ground-breaking Inuit team including project manager Jocelyn Piirainen, WAG Assistant Curator of Inuit Art; Nicole Luke, Exhibition Designer; Mark Bennett, Graphic Designer, and Kayla Bruce, Educational Assistant.

Credit: This video was originally published by The Winnipeg Art Gallery, April 5, 2021. COURTESY WINNIPEG ART GALLERY-QAUMAJUQ.

This story is part of the Qaumajuq Partner Spotlight. View more content from the Spotlight here.