Permanent Collection

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One of the most respected elders in the Cape Dorset community, Kananginak Pootoogook, passed away last week at age 75.  His work is in our current Nipirasait exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in DC.  I was very lucky to have met Kananginak on two occasions at his home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut.  It was a little intimidating since I obviously don’t speak Inuktitut.  But Jimmy Manning was there, the metaphorical shaman that passes between the Inuit and the southern “qaalunaat” like me.  Kananginak was known as the “Audubon of the north” with his carefully rendered and thoughtful depictions of nature and the environment.  I have some pictures at school that I’ll post tomorrow.

St. Lawrence owns several of Kananginak’s prints, including one of my favorites, “Amiraijaktuk, Shedding the Velvet.”

His print “Intrepid Caribou” was also represented on the card for an exhibition at the gallery in 2005 entitled “Far North.”

Kananginak had a major retrospective exhibition of fifty years of work last February-March 2010 at the Museum of Inuit Art in Toronto.

Our Nipirasait: Many Voices exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in DC was reviewed in The Washington Diplomat with a story entitled Inuition: Five Decades Produces ‘Many Voices’ from Canada’s Cape Dorset.  The author, Stephanie Kanowitz, did her homework, and the article is very well written.  Leslie Boyd Ryan from Dorset Fine Arts provided information about the artists, life up north, and Inuit traditions and lore.  I talked about how the exhibition was organized as a result of SLU’s acquisition of the 2009 annual Cape Dorset collection.  From the review:

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Both Ryan and Tedford hope exhibition viewers come away with the sense that each artist has his or her own style and message.

It’s not simply generic Inuit art — it’s very specifically Kenojuak or specifically Suvinai,” Ryan said of the artists.

What I would like to see is that people recognize these artists as individual artists,” Tedford said. “It’s not just a body of work by anonymous artists. It’s these artists and they have these perspectives.”

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Right on.

Our exhibition of Inuit prints will be on view at the Canadian Embassy in DC through December 30, 2010, and will come home for display at the Gallery next spring.  St. Lawrence worked with Embassy staff to host a private reception on September 15.  SLU trustees, alums, and friends met with President Bill Fox and Ambassador Gary Doer, and as Bill said later, “Raves everywhere.”  By all accounts, it was quite a success.  A set of pics from the reception is linked here.

Paul Stevenson, a SLU alumnus and  a friend of the gallery, was kind enough to visit the Canadian Embassy on Canada Day and took some photographs of the banners.  They look great!  The banners were installed after we returned from hanging the exhibition, so we haven’t yet seem them in real life.   More installation photographs are available on flickr.  I haven’t had a chance to post any other photos on the blog but hope to do so this week.

The guy standing underneath the caribou and chatting on his cell phone provides a nice sense of scale.

Last week, Cathy and I made a super speedy trip to NYC to meet with Joe Dezzi at Conservation Framing Services to talk about framing a group of 36 Inuit prints.  The prints are from the 2009 Dorset Fine Arts annual collection and mark the 50th anniversary of the print shop in Cape Dorset.  The prints will be exhibited at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. this summer.

Joe helped us choose frame stock and determine the size of the mats — important details!

Here are a few photos of the very organized frameshop!

Buddhist Art and Ritual, a fine arts class taught by Chandreyi Basu, visited the Gallery this afternoon to get a firsthand look at a selection of Buddhist art and artifacts from the University’s Permanent Collection.  Students worked in groups, examining chakpus (brass tools used in the creation of sand mandalas), a bell and dorje, and two paintings of deities.  There was some debate about the identity of deities surrounding Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion, depicted on the thangka painting.  The groups presented their findings to the class at the end of the session.

Melissa Schulenberg’s advanced printmaking class visited the gallery on Wednesday morning to get a look at some artists’ books and character-based art from the University’s Permanent Collection.  Students will be making a book and an accompanying clamshell box to house it, so they examined the books carefully, taking note of each book’s aesthetic and how that aesthetic is expressed through different bindings, paper choice, and display of text and image.  Students will be creating their own characters for the content of their books, so we had a good look at some prints by Motomichi Nakamura and Shepard Fairey, and toys designed by Tim Biskup,  Friends with You, Charles Anderson, and David Choe, among others.

It was early in the morning, so that might account for the bleary eyes!  Sorry!

Carole and I attended the Artists Books Conference in NYC last week, which was superb.  One of the best sessions was on ‘zines and alternative presses and institutional approaches to collection development in this genre.  Both Barnard and Pratt have been developing ‘zine collections for teaching and research.  The presenters seemed opposed to digitizing their collections, as if digitizing compromised the original intentions of ‘zine artists who often want to lay low and/or underground.  The Brush Art Gallery has been collecting ‘zines for several years, mostly from Printed Matter, where David Platzker (SLU alum) was director for several years.

Emily Gawdey-Backus wrote a(nother) thoughful essay about the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery and Permanent Collection in the current issue of The Hill News.  Essays like these help communicate to students and others information about the function of the gallery as a source for learning and research.

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Our next exhibition features West African textiles donated to SLU by Chris Roy ’70 and Nora Leonard Roy ’69.

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I’ll be updating details in the  Gallery website in the next day or two, but there is an exhibition checklist available.

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