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Courtesy Shary Boyle

Esker Foundation brings artists from across Canada together for Earthlings

By Rachel Woodward, January 17 2017  —

In 2009, Shary Boyle and Shuvinai Ashoona exhibited together at the University of Toronto. The pair have since collaborated across Canada. Boyle, located in Toronto and Ashoona, based in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, will reunite alongside five other artists at the Esker Foundation from Jan. 21 – May 7 for Earthlings.

Esker Foundation curator Shauna Thompson says that while the gallery usually produces solo exhibitions, the group show is a welcome exception.

“This was a special exhibition that came together through a proposal by Boyle,” she says. “She approached us and was very interested in doing a group show in ceramics and works on paper and we were super interested in the idea.”

The exhibition features over 115 pieces, primarily highlighting ceramics and drawings that the seven artists, in some form, had a hand in creating. Because of the collaborative aspect of Boyle and Ashoona’s artistic relationship, Thompson says that the rest of the exhibit will display the same collaboration.

“I think the best way to describe it is just really incredible visionary, imaginative ceramics and drawings that were made individually but also collaboratively, which I find super exciting,” she says. “A lot of the pieces have more than one artist whose hand has worked on them. There’s a really interesting coming together and exchange of ideas.”

The artists in the exhibition are also geographically connected, hailing from Nunavut’s Rankin Inlet, Cape Dorset, Baker Lake and Toronto, Ontario. Thompson says the Canadian landscapes from disparate corners of the country will set the stage to show what art is and how northern Canadian artists create their work.

Alongside Boyle and Ashoona, John Kurok, a Rankin Inlet ceramist, multifaceted artist Roger Aksadjuak, story-based artist Pierre Aupilardjuk, expressive artist Jessie Kenalogak and critically-renowned carver Leo Napayok will also feature at the show.

Thompson says that the diversity of the show is its strength and it will be easy for gallery attendees to find something they like.

“It’s all very profoundly human but there’s also all these other-worldly images and transformative narratives, so there’s an interesting balance between the tangible humanness of it and this spiritual, almost alien thing happening in the show,” she says. “It’s such a huge umbrella but I really think that the exhibition touches on everything from birth to life to death to myths and reality and everything in between. There’s going to be something for everybody here.”

Thompson hopes that by viewing this exhibition, Calgarians will experience a new take on Canadian art.

Earthlings runs at the Esker Foundation until May 7. Admission to the gallery is free.

For more information, visit eskerfoundation.com

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