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New digital art mural celebrates Inuvialuit printmaking

large mural that includes colourful artwork depicting a person on a skidoo, caribou herds, fishing lines, roses and an inuksuk, all set against a sepia-toned background.

Image: Northern Flash, 2022 by Kyle Natkusiak Aleekuk, photo by Ryan Rice

Visit OCAD U’s Onsite Gallery and you’ll be struck by the colourful art mural on the exterior façade of the gallery on Richmond St. W.

Artist Kyle Natkusiak Aleekuk’s Northern Flash, 2022 is the second mural in a series of commissioned digital murals by Inuit artists titled Up Front: Inuit Public Art at Onsite Gallery, presented in partnership with the Inuit Art Foundation (IAF).

“The new series features the important contributions of the Inuit art sector, and we are very pleased to work with the IAF to support Inuit art and artists in the public realm,” says Ryan Rice, Onsite Gallery’s Executive Director and Curator, Indigenous Art.

Aleekuk’s works are inspired by the bold colours and style of the printmakers of Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, including his grandfather Peter Aliknak Banksland and great aunt Agnes Nanogak Goose.

Kyle Aleekuk’s tattoo designs are an example of blending the traditional with the contemporary. His work reflects the evolution of Inuit culture and the continued ingenuity of our people,” says Heather Campbell, Strategic Initiatives Director at the Inuit Art Foundation.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Aleekuk incorporates elements of contemporary design while honouring the rich history of printmaking in the North.

“Kyle’s work, Northern Flash, 2022, is inspired by and expands upon the esteemed internationally-renowned printmaking practices that stretch across multiple generations of Inuit artists,” says Rice.

“By interpreting Western Canadian Arctic iconography such as skidoos, caribou herds, fishing lines and accustomed Inuksuk in the graphic-style of classic Americana flash tattoos, he designs an accessible representation of contemporary Inuvialuk culture and identity drawn from lived experiences and his own relationships with the land, community and family that is skin deep,” he adds.

Aleekuk’s digital mural will be on view at Onsite Gallery until March 2023.

About Onsite Gallery
Onsite Gallery, OCAD U’s flagship professional gallery, presents contemporary, Indigenous, and public art and design to advance knowledge creation and stimulate local and international conversations on the urgent issues of our time.

About the Inuit Art Foundation
The Inuit Art Foundation (IAF) is the only national organization supporting Inuit artists in all medias and geographic areas. It empowers and supports Inuit artists’ self-expression and self-determination through its many platforms, including the Inuit Art Quarterly (IAQ), Canada’s largest art magazine, the IAQ Profiles, artist services, awards, scholarships and mentorship opportunities.