Kablusiak works titled Red Ookpik with Hat, Red Ookpik, Plucked Ookpik, Furby Ookpik and Garfield Ookpik. Photo: National Gallery of Canada
Kablusiak, a Yellowknife-born Inuvialuk artist, is the winner of a leading Canadian art award worth $100,000.
Now based in Calgary, Kablusiak – whose parents are from Tuktoyaktuk and Sachs Harbour – was selected from a five-person shortlist by a panel of judges. The winner was announced on Saturday evening.
Kablusiak’s entry featured a riff on the Ookpik, a 1960s toy that originated in Kuujjuaq, merging the basic concept with more recent pop culture phenomena ranging from Garfield to the Furby.
“Challenging the notion of what Inuit art should look like is definitely one of my favourite things to do,” Kablusiak told Cabin Radio earlier this year.
The jury said they “felt compelled by Kablusiak’s fearless and unapologetic practice that confounds old categories and art histories and points to new imaginaries.”
Jury chair Jonathan Shaughnessy continued: “Their multidisciplinary vocabulary deploys the experience of being looked at without being seen that shapes Inuit and queer realities in both the art world and society at large. Their attention to materiality and embodiment, along with a critical use of humour, are world-building and affirming.”
In a news release, Kablusiak said: “Winning this award is a dream, and being among amazing peers makes this award especially special.
“This opportunity allows so many doors to open and I am grateful for every moment.”