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.
Not 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.
At the age of five, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis
and was taken away from her family and sent to a Manitoba hospital to recover. She was separated from her parents and siblings for nearly three years.
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,
the arm-chair sports enthusiast,
the mother and grandmother,
and the citizen who is witnessing first hand some of the pressing social problems in her home community.
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.