By turns uncanny, comical and disquieting, Shuvinai Ashoona’s idiosyncratic dream-like imagery erases the distinctions between the natural and spirit worlds, and between the real and imagined. Many of the artist’s images include fantastical monster-like creatures, while others portray people and planets orbited by a range of beings including fish and walruses. Ashoona’s drawings of tents and wooden structures positioned on rock strewn landscapes often provide glimpses of their interiors, transforming what might otherwise be mistaken for images belonging to ethnographic illustration into uncanny meditations on the fluid boundary between inside and outside. Known for her aerial perspectives and cropped compositions, Ashoona’s carefully executed drawings and prints are often marked by a filmic sensibility.
The daughter of the well-known sculptor Kiawak Ashoona and granddaughter of the late Pitseolak Ashoona, the great graphic artist, Shuvinai Ashoona was born in 1961 in Cape Dorset on Baffin Island. Her own career started in the mid-1990s when she began making drawings for the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative. Often startlingly different from other Cape Dorset graphic expression, Ashoona’s reputation as a contemporary Canadian artist has steadily grown over the years. Her works are included in several prominent institutional collections, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.