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Grant will make Inuit art exhibition a reality

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre has received a substantial grant of $261,937 from the Museum Assistance Program (MAP) of the Department of Canadian Heritage, it was announced Friday.

[Norman Vorano]
Norman Vorano is the Queen’s National Scholar and Curator of Indigenous Art.

The grant, the largest received by the gallery from this source, will be allocated over a three-year period. It supports an extraordinary exhibition of graphite drawings under the title Drawing from the Past: Picturing Inuit Modernity in the North Baffin Region, 1964. The show will be featured at the Agnes in 2017, with a national tour to follow.

Created in partnership with the Canadian Museum of History and the Piqqusilirivvik Inuit Cultural Learning Facility in Clyde River, Nunavut, Drawing from the Past will examine a tumultuous era in the history of Canada’s Arctic through the display and interpretation of a unique collection of Inuit drawings made in 1964. The drawings, created by Inuit men and women from the North Baffin communities of Clyde River, Pond Inlet, and Arctic Bay, document the thoughts, apprehensions, memories and observations of Nunavummiut during a time of social upheaval. The pieces entered the collection of the Canadian Museum of History in 2014.

Norman Vorano, Queen’s National Scholar and Curator of Indigenous Art, will lead the project. The exhibition is the first effort to bring this collection to the public in 30 years. Dr. Vorano says the project represents a special opportunity.

“The partnership with Piqqusilirivvik will ensure an informed, culturally rich interpretive framework for presenting these drawings, and opens a new channel of engagement with Canada’s Aboriginal population,” he says. “Reflecting contemporary discussions in curatorial practice, the exhibition seeks a realignment of the relationship between Indigenous and settler perspectives on non‐Western art through an emphasis upon the intangible elements of visual arts — the stories, memories and voices associated with the drawings.”

Agnes Director Jan Allen points out that the cultural exchange embedded in Drawing from the Past takes the work of the gallery in a new direction.

“With the support of MAP and the help of our partners, these drawings — tangible traces of cross‐cultural encounter from half a century ago — will come to life through reflective interviews with the people of their community of origin,” she says. “In conceiving this project, Norman Vorano has cultivated a fresh collaborative approach that promises to be revelatory for all involved.”

In addition to his role at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Dr. Vorano is an assistant professor in the Department of Art at Queen’s University.

For more information, contact Diana Gore, administrative coordinator, at (613) 533.2190 or diana.gore@queensu.ca.