Shuvinai Ashoona, from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, is one of the few Inuit artists working today that has successfully managed to bridge the worlds of Inuit art with the imaginations of contemporary art lovers. Her drawings have been seen internationally in large group exhibitions, most recently in SITElines Santa Fe: Unsettled Landscapes. Shuvinai’s ability to capture the contemporary zeitgeist with delightful and accomplished compositions has undoubtedly placed her on the contemporary world stage.
Shuvinai’s artwork certainly recognizes the uniqueness and seductiveness of her remote northern landscape. Her compositions are bountiful with iconic arctic images such as polar bears and sea life, kamiks and parkas, land and sea; however, it is her very specific and often complex worldview that propels her drawings into a more global context where her imagination and anxieties ignite the content. Shuvinai’s graphics are fuelled with illusive imagery that sits comfortably within the northern landscape.
All part of her visual vocabulary, Shuvinai’s intricate landscapes detail every stone, while clams, seashells, and goose eggs scatter her beaches. There are globes and spheres floating amongst images of artists proudly holding their drawings for sale. We see a black snake stretched out on a beach with what appears to be local houses rolled up in its twisted coils. Within even the most straight forward composition, one can delight in discoveries of the unexpected, the unreal or the curious. In the words of poet Shel Silverstein, Shuvinai’s world is one in which she “weaves a strange and wondrous web.” Shuvinai’s drawings are always engaging, habitually perplexing, sometimes cryptic and often poetic. The graphics selected for Woven Thoughts at Feheley Fine Arts are lighter than her past bodies of work. Perhaps these “crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles” mark a time when Shuvinai’s north is a peaceful one.
“A spider lives inside my head
Who weaves a strange and wondrous web
Of silken threads and silver strings
To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles
And specks of dried-up tears,
And dust of dreams that catch and cling
For years and years and years…”
― Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It
To view available artworks by Shuvinai Ashoona, click here.