Textiles by Annie Taipana
January 23 – February 20, 2021
Feheley Fine Arts is pleased to present a selection of eight textile works by artist Annie Taipana. Born in Hanningajuq (Garry Lake) in 1931, Taipana moved to Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake) in 1972 where the first Inuit sewing shop had been recently established. Qamani’tuaq in the 1970s was a hub for Inuit women working in the art of wall-hangings: artistic powerhouses like Jessie Oonark, Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq, and Taipana’s mother Elizabeth Angrnaqquaq Qiayuq, were well on their way to becoming leading names in Inuit art. It was not until the 1980s that Taipana would begin to make wall-hangings of her own, taking after her mother and the strong presence of women artists in her community.
This selection of wall-hangings primarily features the lively animal subjects that Taipana’s work is known for. She developed an affinity for these creatures of the North during her childhood later translating them into lively works of art during her adult life. Wolves, caribou, seals, birds, muskox, and fish intermingle with one another; some playing predator, others playing prey.
Uniquely, Taipana’s compositions create an attractive surface tension: her animals and figures are dynamic yet also static as their orientations change, though forms remain relatively the same. The message of the composition is still communicated with relative clarity, such as in Composition (Birds, Wolves, Caribou) where an open-mouthed wolf in the upper right corners a helpless ptarmigan. A similar story is repeated in Composition (Many Animals) where a hot-pink bird lays belly up surrounded by a pack of four wolves. But in the lower half of the composition the birds finally get their moment, hungrily eyeing three seemingly oblivious floating fish. The adjectives are left up to us, the viewers, to fill in—hungry ptarmigan, helpless fish—but the fundamentals are there. Likewise Taipana’s style neglects to distinguish water from land, yet leaves the right amount of visual information to fill in the blanks. Her compositions keep the mind as active as her animal subjects who seem to chase, eat, fly, and die somehow without moving at all.
Taipana’s work is also recognizable for her meticulous threadwork, often covering her wall-hangings from border to border, adding further layers of colour and dynamism to compositions. For her, the closed feather stitch technique reigns supreme, undulating around animal and figure cut-outs simulating the feeling of vibration. In Composition (Inuit Gathering), the sole figural work, Taipana’s threadwork conjures the atmosphere of a crowded community gathering. Figures face toward and away from each other, as well as to us, generating the sense of excitable community buzz. Works like this celebrate the daily ongoings of community life before the days of social distancing, reminiscing on a past that will once again become a present soon enough.
Today, Taipana lives in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet) where she is surrounded by family.
— Emily Lawrence