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Doctoral candidate receives inaugural art award

Tanya Lukin Linklater is the first recipient of the Wanda Koop Research Fund, which supports mid-career artists.

[Tanya Lukin Linklater]
Tanya Lukin Linklater is a doctoral candidate and artist. She recently received a national research fund recognizing her work. (Photo by Brandon Gray)

It was a call Tanya Lukin Linklater wasn’t expecting.

Ms. Lukin Linklater, an artist and Queen’s doctoral candidate, was recently named the recipient of the Canadian Art Foundation’s inaugural Wanda Koop Research Fund. This new research fund, worth $15,000, was named for the Winnipeg artist appearing on the cover of the first issue of Canadian Art in fall 1984.

Ms. Lukin Linklater is Alutiiq and originates from the Native Villages of Afognak and Port Lions in Alaska. She is currently based in northern Ontario, and that setting has been inspiring her most recent work.

“I spend time thinking through and investigating Indigenous ideas in dance, performance, video, and installation primarily,” she says. “My work carries a deep responsibility to Indigenous peoples, and I am mindful to work in a good way and to respectfully be in relation to community. I follow questions or ideas, investigating where they will go, and that helps me determine which medium I work in and through to share an idea.”

Most recently, Ms. Lukin Linklater developed a performance called Sun Force, in response to the work of Rita Letendre at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Ms. Lukin Linklater was an artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario where Rita Letendre’s retrospective, Fire & Light, was shown. Letendre’s practice of abstract painting became the impetus for Ms. Lukin Linklater’s performance.

She also completed a video entitled The treaty is the body which shares Indigenous understandings of treaty relationships, and challenges non-Indigenous audiences to consider their responsibilities in relation to treaty.

[A still from The treaty is the body video. By Tanya Lukin Linklater and Liz Lott]
A still from The treaty is the body video highlighting two of the video's youth dancers. (Photo by Tanya Lukin Linklater and Liz Lott)

The recipients of the Wanda Koop Research Fund are selected by a ‘who’s-who’ of art experts from across the country. The judging panel called Ms. Lukin Linklater’s work, “complex, engaging, multidimensional, and inspiring”.

“Our selection recognizes an artist who continues to grow and flourish in her art creation and intellectual artistic investigations,” Julie Nagam, chair of the history of Indigenous arts of North America at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the University of Winnipeg told CanadianArt.ca on behalf of the judging panel. “Her practice is leading the way in terms of performance, dance and installation-based work and we were excited for her to be the inaugural recipient of a mid-career award for a visual artist.”

[Sun Force by Tanya Lukin Linklater]
Sun Force by Tanya Lukin Linklater. (Supplied Photo)

Ms. Lukin Linklater’s next works will explore Alaskan Native objects – a topic that is personal to her, but one she has not revisited recently. The Queen’s community will get to see the outcome of that work as she produces a new performance for the Soundings Festival that is scheduled for March 2019 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

In the meantime, Ms. Lukin Linklater also has her doctoral studies to work on. She started her doctorate part-time in 2015 in the field of cultural studies. Ms. Lukin Linklater’s supervisor, Dylan Robinson, was pleased to hear about the recognition for her artistic practice.

“Her work has received significant attention over the past few years, with major commissions including her work for La Biennale de Montréal in 2016 and her participation in documenta 14, a major international series of contemporary art exhibitions,” says Dr. Robinson, who is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s. “The PhD research she has undertaken through Queens’ Cultural Studies Program is exciting and this important award recognizes her leadership in the area of Indigenous research-creation.”

“I am privileged to work with Dr. Robinson and my committee,” she says. “My doctoral work has contributed significantly to my practice by reminding me of some of the essential questions I grapple with – for example, how Indigenous ways of being and knowing are embodied in our present circumstances, despite colonialism – while giving me an opportunity to investigate, learn, and contribute to the production of knowledge in the field of Indigenous arts.”

The Wanda Koop Research Fund prize is valued at $15,000, and is intended to support travel and research costs.

To learn more about Tanya Lukin Linklater and her work, visit her website. She was also recently featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC’s) Exhibitionists program.