A large marble sculpture by artist Goota Ashoona was unveiled this week at the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq.
The artwork is titled Tuniigusiia, or “The Gift.” It stands in the outdoor plaza at the corner of St. Mary Avenue and Memorial Boulevard in Manitoba’s capital city. The sculpture represents the story of the sea goddess Sedna on one side. The other side features a magic woman with a facial tattoo who is teaching her daughter how to throat sing.
Ashoona herself is a throat singer and multi-disciplinary artist who also works in soapstone, whale bone and creates wall hangings. Born in Kinngait but now working out of Ashoona Studios in Elie, Man., her art can be found among the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s permanent collection. She’s the daughter of artist Kiawak Ashoona and granddaughter of printmaker Pitseolak Ashoona.
Tuniigusiia was commissioned by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society as permanent artwork “to honour teachers all around us — in the land and in our lives — who reveal the truth, wisdom and beauty that connect us all.”
James Bedford, president of the the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, said his group is proud to dedicate Ashoon’s sculpture “to the pursuit of understanding, compassion, wisdom and hope in the world.”
Qaumajuq, which means “it is bright, it is lit,” is the name for the new Inuit Art Centre in Winnipeg, which will open later this year. The 40,000-square-foot-building will showcase thousands of carvings in its Visible Vault.
“Qaumajuq is the first art museum of its kind, bringing Inuit voices to the forefront, and dedicated to the art and culture of Inuit from Canada and beyond,” states a news release from the Winnipeg Art Gallery. “Qaumajuq will innovate the art museum, taking art from object to full sensory experience with Inuit-led programming, complementing and augmenting the cutting-edge art education that the WAG offers today.”