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earthlings

August 03, 2018 – October 06, 2018

Earthlings

Artist Multiple Artists

Curated by: Shary Boyle in collaboration with Shauna Thompson

Organized by The Esker Foundation

Roger Aksadjuak

Shuvinai Ashoona

Pierre Aupilardjuk

Shary Boyle

Jessie Kenalogak

John Kurok

Leo Napayok

Earthlings is a touring exhibition of ceramic sculptures and works on paper created individually and collaboratively by seven contemporary artists working from distinct cultural and geographical positions. Hailing from Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet, Kinngait/Cape Dorset, Qamani’tuaq/Baker Lake, and Toronto, the artists in Earthlings share an intuitive and labour-intensive approach to their work with materials and stories. Their sculptures and drawings merge animal and human, reality and myth, actual and imagined spaces.

The results of creative exchange are present throughout the exhibition. Ceramic masks, pots, and sculptures by Roger Aksadjuak, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Jessie Kenalogak, John Kurok, and Leo Napayok were made at Matchbox Gallery, an Inuit ceramics workshop in Rankin Inlet on the western shore of Hudson’s Bay that encourages collaborative making and learning. Shuvinai Ashoona and Shary Boyle have been working together since 2011, and their shared drawings and sculptures are featured along with individual pieces. In September 2016, Aupilardjuk, Boyle, and Kurok undertook a month-long residency together at Medalta in the Historic Clay District in Medicine Hat, Alberta to learn from each other, and produce new works. Results of these collective efforts are found in the exhibition. Approached through an ethos of openness, and a desire for mutual learning, Earthlings has been an occasion to build relationships and contexts for exchange, a space for experimental working, and a platform for intra- and inter-cultural dialogues to emerge.

As Shary Boyle explains: “I think of this work, my own included, as “bridge art”; it spans between things, between people, animals, space, and the earth. It spans languages. It spans the real and the unreal. The living and the dead. The past and the future. It is art to communicate, through symbols, myths, dreams, and hybrids. It connects.”

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Nanaimo Art Gallery is situated in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations, and we are grateful to operate on Snuneymuxw territory.