I was drawn to this sculpture by Manasie Akpaliapik in the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec because it reminded me of a sculpture by Luke Airut we have at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Dream of Plenty.
Both sculptures are by Inuit artists from Nunavut who come from families of carvers. They were both created from whalebone which is a very difficult medium to use since it is fragile and must be carved slowly and carefully with hand tools. Both sculptures have a wonderful symmetry about them and both feature faces.
In both sculptures some areas have been left rough and others polished smooth. There is a delicate balance of sections of detailed carving with areas of natural whalebone textures.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery has another connection with the artist whose work I saw at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. The Inukshuk piece that is on permanent display in the roof top garden at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is also by Manasie Akpaliapik.
Finding Two Old Friends
Up On the Rooftop
I spotted this artwork on a sheet of metal on the stone wall of a pub in Quebec City. It shows two Inuit men out on the tundra wearing snow goggles or in the Inuktitut language ilgaak ᐃᓪᒑᒃ. The slit in the googles improves visual acuity helping focus on things in the distance.
It reminded me of this pair of snow goggles we have at the Winnipeg Art Gallery that we use in our interactive programs with kids. They are made of antler and seal skin. They are used to protect people’s eyes from the sun and the glare of the snow and to prevent snow blindness. The goggles fit tightly to your face so that light can only enter through the slits. The kids on our tours think they are pretty cool!
An Inuit Art Primer
At one time there were about 25,000 Wendat First Nations people in North America. Wendat lived in 18 to 25 villages, some with up to 3,500 people along the shores of Lake Ontario. Between 1634 and 1642 they were reduced to about 9,000 by a series of epidemics, measles, influenza and smallpox brought by the French. The French called the Wendat, the Huron. After a war with the Iroquois a remnant of the Wendat people dispersed to different places in North America. One group ended up not far from where Quebec City is located today. We visited a Wendat village set up for tourists when we were in Quebec. Dave and his cousin John had a long talk with one of the members of the tribe who was acting as a guide.
The present population of the Wendat, near Québec City, is about 3,000. The majority are Catholic and use French as their first language.The Wendat once lived in long houses which were up to 7 meters wide and 90 meters in length and housed extended families that traced a common descent to the same mother or grandmother.
High palisades around the villages offered protection.
The Wendat traveled in birch bark canoes along the St. Lawrence River. Story telling was important to the Wendat and they often used art to tell those stories.
The Wendat were one of the most important suppliers of furs to the French exchanging their furs for goods from the French. The Wendat have lost their original language. At the site of their reconstructed village near Quebec City they are doing their best to preserve at least a part of their culture and heritage and share that knowledge with those who come to visit.
Hopi at the Heard
Killing a Bison is Hard
Dave’s Vision Quest
I bumped into Johannes Gutenberg at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec City and was reminded of some of the interesting stuff I’d learned about Gutenberg when I visited the Gutenberg Museum in Johannes’ home town of Mainz Germany.
Gutenberg was born in Mainz in 1395 but when a revolt against the nobility happened there in 1425 Gutenberg’s family moved to Strasbourg France where legal documents indicate Gutenberg was involved in a broken engagement with a young lady from Strasbourg.
Before inventing the printing press and printing the Gutenberg Bible Johannes was involved in manufacturing metal mirrors designed to capture holy light emanating from religious relics. These mirrors were sold to pilgrims on journeys to holy sites.
A businessman named Johann Fust loaned Gutenberg the funds to build his printing press. In 1455, Fust took Gutenberg to court, claiming Gutenberg had mishandled his loan. The court ruled in favor of Fust, leaving Gutenberg bankrupt. But guess who was one of the witnesses during the court case? Johannes’ former assistant Peter Schoeffer, who proceeded to take over Gutenberg’s former shop and help Fust run the printing press and turn it into a profitable business.
Poor Johannes. He never got credit for inventing the printing press in his lifetime and there were no known images made of him while he was alive. Maybe he’d be happy to know he is famous now and there are images of his likeness all over the world including in his hometown of Mainz Germany and in a museum in Quebec City Canada.
A Face for Champlain
We had our first snow in Winnipeg last night and it made me think of this art piece Snow Angel I saw in the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City. It is by Karine Giboulo and shows a child playing in a garbage dump in Mumbai where her family sorts different colors of plastic to sell and make a living. Artist Giboulo says, ” What could be more common to North American children than making a snow angel? But the image takes on a whole other meaning when juxtapositioned with the reality of children working among the refuse in Mumbai.”
India Assaults the Senses
Co-Creation at the Art Gallery
How fun! The idea of art galleries where people of all ages are invited to engage in creation is something Nina Simons champions in her book Participatory Museums. I saw exciting evidence of this at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. Look at the interactive invitations given to children in the Inuit art section.
Build an Inukshuk out of pillows
Create string stories and play string games
Settle into a snow nest to read Inuit legends while listening to Inuit throat singers
Or make Inuit art prints at these art stations
According to Nina Simons a participatory art gallery or museum is one where visitors create, share, and connect with each other around content. That is certainly happening at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.
An Inuit Art Primer
Falling in Love
When we were in Quebec City we attended Sunday service at The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. They have eight bells in their church tower to announce the start of worship and each bell plays a different note on the scale. Give a listen by clicking the picture below.
The choir director at Holy Trinity is Sandra Bender and her first job was conducting a young adult choir at First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg.
The sermon by Dean Christian Schreiner was given the day before Canada went to the polls. We were encouraged to pick the candidate on the ballot who was most likely to be a ‘servant’ and truly the serve the people he or she were elected to represent.
I was drawn to this plaque in the foyer. It reminded me that my generation grew up without ever seeing a woman pastor in a church. I’m so glad that isn’t the case anymore.
A Black and White Religion
A Tiny Church
A Church and A Bar on Every Corner