Arrived: Drawings by Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok and Mary Ayaq Anowtalik

Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok, COMPOSITION, Arviat 2008, coloured pencil, 18 x 12″

Exhibition opened February 14, 2009

For Arviat artists, Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok and Mary Ayaq Anowtalik, many decades of sculpting culminated in a reputation of excellence in carving. Several years ago, both artists undertook a new medium – drawing. They have now emerged as important graphic artists.

The works of art in this exhibition build on the collection of experimental drawings that first introduced the artists’ graphic talents at Feheley Fine Arts in 2005. Once again, under the guidance of art historian and curator, Ingo Hessel, the artists were encouraged to work in coloured pencil and pastel, this time on paper in a variety of scales. Each artist has explored the full possibilities of the medium and, while their styles differ greatly, the outcome is a collection of over sixty original works on paper that exude dynamic character and an accomplished handling of line, colour and form.

In these recent works the compositions are more varied in subject matter, and more complex in layout. They entice viewers to study them fully to unravel the details of each image. Theme divides them naturally into two groups—narratives and abstracts.

Some of the narratives depict traditional Arctic activities, such as hunting or fishing, or the intricacies of the Arctic landscape. Others show playful interactions between figures, or people engaging in daily activities in the Arctic. This first group finds its roots in life; real objects and people inspire these compositions.

Mary Ayaq Anowtalik, TENTS AND DRYING FISH, Arviat 2008, coloured pencil, 12 x 18″

The second group treats composition and colour fields in a fresh way. In these works, the artists reinforce the strength of the narrative drawings by further exploring the potential of their new media. Coloured pencils and pastels become a vehicle for new form, line and pattern. This experimentation is visible in both artists’ work.

Mary’s squares of abstraction resemble landscapes, but the artist pushes the medium beyond her comfort zone. She creates sufficient tension between the drawn image and the paper’s edge that the image appears to attempt escape from the page. In several other drawings, Mary presses her work into the abstract even more. In The Seasons, for instance, the colours symbolize the four seasons, but Mary’s manner of representing them is new; she fills the page entirely with colour, letting it guide the shapes.

Lucy’s drawings also move beyond her previous compositions by exploring the depth and potential of colour. The intensity of the pastels and coloured pencils “pop” off the page in her drawings on black paper. The liveliness of the colours resonates with the complexity of the composition. She intertwines the relationships of people, animals and landscapes to the point that the entire drawing borders on the abstract. Each drawing requires in-depth examination to allow the eye to resolve the images captured within. This is especially true for the larger-scale works on white paper, whose compositions are densely packed onto the page. These compositions contrast strongly with the artist’s sculptures—loose, abstracted forms with concealed faces and figures—which suggest that the medium of drawing has provided the artist with a means to create larger and more complex figures.

The introduction of the abstract opens the door for many interpretations of these drawings. It also focuses attention onto the media—coloured pencils and pastels—that become the driving force of these works on paper. Both Mary Ayaq Anowtalik and Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok are excited by their work in this new medium and the will continue to explore the possibilities it offers.

Drawing captions taken from interviews between the artists and Feheley Fine Arts, February 2009.

To view available artworks by Mary Ayaq Anowtalik, click here.

To view available artworks by Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok, click here.