Getting to Know Oviloo

oviloo and her granddaughter Tye

Oviloo and her adopted granddaughter Tye by photographer Jerry Riley.

Meet Oviloo Tunnillie one of the few female Inuit carvers to achieve international success. Sixty of her pieces are now on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in an exhibit that will touch your heart and leave you wanting to know even more about the talented woman who created such exquisite work.

Oviloo Tunnillie on sledNot only is Oviloo a unique carver because of her gender, but also because she was so prolific and her pieces give the viewer such a remarkable window into her own personal life. Sadly Oviloo died in 2014 of cancer when she was only 65.

I was particularly drawn to the pieces in the exhibit that tell of Oviloo’s childhood illness.

oviloo in the hospital

Oviloo in the Hospital

At the age of five, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

and was taken away from her family and sent to a Manitoba hospital to recover. oviloo in her hospital bedShe was separated from her parents and siblings for nearly three years.

nurse with oviloo

Nurse with Oviloo

Frightened and unable to speak English the little girl felt sad and lost.

In the current exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery we meet Oviloo the carver,

Oviloo the sculptor carrying a  piece of stone

Oviloo the sculptor carrying a piece of stone

the daughter,

One of Oviloo's carvings of her father

One of Oviloo’s carvings of her father

the arm-chair sports enthusiast,

Oviloo's carving of an Olympic figure skater

Oviloo’s carving of an Olympic figure skater

the mother and grandmother,

Oviloo and her granddaughter holding a photo of themselves

Oviloo and her granddaughter holding a photo of themselves

the woman,

Woman with long hair by Oviloo

Woman with long hair by Oviloo

and the citizen who is witnessing first hand some of the pressing social problems in her home community.  

Woman Passed Out by Oviloo

Woman Passed Out by Oviloo

I was privileged to tour the exhibit with its curator Darlene Coward Wight and she drew me in completely with her account of Oviloo’s personal story and her intimate knowledge of Oviloo’s impressive body of work.  This exhibit runs till early September and is one not to be missed. 

Other posts……..

Falling in Love

Looking Cool the Inuit Way

The Globalization of Art from Japan to Cape Dorset

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Filed under Art, WInnipeg Art Gallery

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