Sanannguanitigut Makitaqatigiinniq: Standing Together Through Art

Project Spotlight: An online exhibition shares Nunavimmiut artists’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Création Représentation Avenir possible
A photograph looking down on a tabletop with beading supplies and a beading project in-progress depicting the outline of Nunavik against a swirling starry sky.

ᓴᓇᓐᖑᐊᓂᑎᒍᑦ ᒪᑭᑕᖃᑎᒌᓐᓂᖅ (Sanannguanitigut Makitaqatigiinniq/Standing Together Through Art/Debout ensemble à travers l’art) is an online exhibit brings together nine Inuit artists whose work bears witness to the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic among Nunavimmiut artists who reside both in Nunavik and outside the region. The exhibition includes work by Akinasi Partridge, Hannah Tooktoo, Isaac Partridge, Kelly-Ann Desrosiers, Mary Paningajak, Niap, Prim, Robert Watt and Ulivia Uviluk.

A photograph looking down on a tabletop with beading supplies and a beading project in-progress depicting the outline of Nunavik against a swirling starry sky.
Ulvia Ulivik (Olivia Lya Thomassie), Une perle à la fois. COURTESY AVATAQ.

The exhibit—available online until March 15, 2023—explores the perceptions, experiences and practices related to the disruption brought upon by the arrival of the coronavirus in our lives since the Spring of 2020. The pandemic has shaken up ways of living all around the world and has brought tension to people and to relationships around the world, including Canada, Quebec, and the communities of Nunavik. Confinements have been one of the challenges experienced throughout Canada. These measures can be especially difficult for individuals and households already facing challenging dynamics prior to the start of the pandemic. Isolation and social distancing can also take a toll on people’s mental health and wellness. It can bring about stress and emotions such as fear, boredom, frustration, and stigmatization. Despite these challenges, people showed strength and resilience, and at times innovative coping strategies to deal with an unusual situation in constant transformation. As well, there have been accounts of people finding positive aspects to confinement, such as enjoyable circumstances or occasions to devote more time to activities that are refreshing and strengthening for themselves or for the family.

An image of an artwork depicting three women—First Nations, Inuit, and Black braiding each others’ hair. Rays of blue and gold surround them, with white text including slogans from the Black Lives Matter, Land Back, and No More Stolen Sisters movements.
Hannah Tooktoo, Braiding Sisters (2021). PHOTO: NICOLAS LIGETT. COURTESY AVATAQ.

Different strategies exist to cope during stressful times. Among these, engaging in art-based activities can help soothe people going through hardship. Creating and contemplating works of art can evoke emotions and can help create meaning in difficult times. Sharing art can also make us feel connected to others.

Through artistic testimony, the sanannguanitigut makitaqatigiinniq exhibit wishes to capture the historical moment of the 2020-2022 coronavirus pandemic. The pieces of art and stories gathered for this exhibit also highlight the diversity of experiences around the pandemic and show the diversity of aesthetics and techniques that creative expression can take. This exhibit may also inspire visitors to turn towards the expressive and evocative power of art, especially in difficult times such as what has been experienced by us all over the past months.

 –Olivia Lya Thomassie et Janique Johnson-Lafleur, Curators and Coordinators of the Initiative

Visit the website to view the exhibition and watch video interviews with participating artists.

This project is supported by The Atautsikut Community of Practice, Avataq Cultural Institute and Pitutsimajut Partnership Research.

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