Exhibition: Alootook Ipellie: Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border | St. Lawrence University Art and Art History

Exhibition: Alootook Ipellie: Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border

January 16 - February 23, 2019
Richard F. Brush Art Gallery (main gallery)
Griffiths Arts Center

The first exhibition of 2019 at St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery will feature the works of Alootook Ipellie (1951–2007) in “Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border.” The exhibition will take place from Jan. 16 to Feb. 23 and will feature a guest lecture by the curators on Feb. 4.

St. Lawrence has acquired and exhibited the work of Inuit artists for the purpose of teaching and research in the liberal arts since the early 1990s. In 2001, the University presented a two-week festival of the arts, “From Nanook to Nunavut: The Art and Politics of Representing Inuit Culture,” co-organized by Cathy Shrady, assistant professor of geology and director of the Outdoor Program and Adirondack Semester, and Brush Art Gallery Director Catherine Tedford. As part of the festival, Ipellie exhibited a selection of political and satirical cartoons and gave a reading. The Brush Art Gallery subsequently purchased 13 of his drawings from the exhibition for the University’s permanent collection, 10 of which are included in “Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border.”

Born at Nuvuqquq on Baffin Island and raised in Iqaluit, Ipellie moved to Ottawa in the late 1960s to attend high school. Over the next four decades, mostly spent in Ottawa, he worked as an artist, writer, cartoonist, editor, illustrator, and journalist. Ipellie’s diverse and prodigious body of work is defined by his lifelong struggle to reconcile the two worlds in which he lived.

“I did not ask to be born an Inuk, nor did I ask to be forced to learn an alien culture with an alien language,” he wrote in the poem “Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border.” Everyday survival on this border, he said, sometimes required “fancy dancing.”

In 2010, works by Inuit artists from the University’s permanent collection were featured during an exhibition at the Embassy of Canadian in Washington, D.C., titled “Nipirasait: Many Voices.” University-sponsored Inuit art exhibitions organized by the Brush Art Gallery have also been presented at the College of Wooster Art Museum in Ohio and the Huntington Museum of Art in West Virginia.

“Walking Both Sides of an Invisible Border” was originally produced by the Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa, where it premiered in the fall of 2018. After its display at St. Lawrence in early 2019, the show will travel to art galleries and museums in Nunavut, Ontario, and Manitoba.

Curators Sandra Dyck and Christine Lalonde will deliver a lecture beginning at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, in Griffiths Arts Center, room 123. A gallery reception will follow.

The curators wrote: “With great wit, passion, and sensitivity, Ipellie gave voice to significant issues affecting Inuit Nunangat. His work feels prescient because it addresses topics that are still urgent, such as political sovereignty, climate change, resource extraction, and the ongoing impact of colonization.”

To view drawings by Ipellie and works by other Inuit artists in St. Lawrence University’s permanent collection, visit digitalcollections.stlawu.edu/collections/inuit-art.

The gallery is free and open to the public. Hours: Monday-Thursday 12-8 pm, Friday and Saturday 12-5 pm. Closed on Sunday.

For more information, contact Catherine Tedford, director, at ctedford@stlawu.edu.