Ningiukulu Teevee is finally getting a new outboard motor.
The Kinngait artist has been in need of a new motor since she was nomimated for the biennial Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award (KAMA) in May, and after beating out four other Inuit artists to win the award on Sept. 22, she now has the means to buy one.
“I’m definitely getting a new outboard motor,” she said several days after receiving the award, which comes with a $20,000 prize.
KAMA was created by the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq (WAG) and the Inuit Art Foundation (IAF) as a way of celebrating and nurturing Inuit artists. Along with the $20,000 prize and the prestige of the award itself, each winner receives an artist residency and ultimately, a solo exhibition in the gallery, which houses the largest collection of Inuit art in the world.
“Winning this prize means a lot to me,” Teevee said. “It helps me reach a wider audience.”
Teevee received her award at the gallery, at a ceremony that included a qulliq lighting and throat singing. Her competition for the award was Newfoundland’s Billy Gauthier, Maureen Gruben of the Northwest Territories, Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona from Ontario, and Alberta’s Kablusiak.
She admits she was surprised to win the award with so many talented artists in the running.
“I was up against the most talented artists that I felt were all better than me,” she said. “I felt unqualified, even guilty for winning.”
Teevee got her start as an artist in Kinngait, drawing early inspiration from her grandfather Abraham Etungat, who was a carver, as well as esteemed local artist Joanasie Salomonie.
Today, Teevee draws most of her inspiration from Kinngait and the North, and is happy that her art plays a role in preserving her Inuit culture.
“[I’m inspired by] old Inuit stories, stories from different parts of the North,” she said. “It’s important to keep our stories and to remember them and to pass them down to be heard.”
Winning a KAMA is a great honour, but certainly not the first big achievement of Teevee’s career. She has already had her work displayed in over 40 exhibitions and 10 solo shows around the world.
Despite all her accomplishments, she is still motivated to expand her creative horizons.
“Creating art allows me to be able to share stories in images or imaginations,” she said. “My goal is to see how else I can put something out in different mediums.”
Teevee also hopes to inspire the next generation of artists in Nunavut, and was happy to share a bit of advice after collecting her latest award.
“Be accepting of any form of criticism and don’t quit because of criticism,” she said.
Before Teevee, the most recent KAMA winner was Coral Harbour’s Tarralik Duffy, whose resulting solo exhibition kicked off at the gallery the same night Teevee received her award.