Goota Ashoona is a sculptor originally from Kinngait, NU. Ashoona is part of a multigenerational family of artists, including her grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona, who was one of the first artists to draw for the printmaking studio in Kinngait; her sister, Shuvinai Ashoona, who works primarily in drawing and has been exhibited widely; and now her son Joe Ashoona who also carves. Ashoona and her family have made remarkable contributions to Canadian cultural heritage and identity. Ashoona primarily works in whale bone and soapstone and also produces intricate Inuit dolls and spectacular wall-hangings. Arctic Woman’s Tale (2009) featured online as part of the Canada Council Art Bank’s collection, is an example of Ashoona’s skill and deft materiality. Carved into a beluga whale breast bone is the face of a woman, partially covered by long strands of hair shaped from the bone. Just beneath the woman’s lips is a small figure, whose left arm is wrapped around the strands of hair and who is holding a comb for the woman’s hair in the other hand. Each component of the sculpture works with the shape and edges and elongated shape of the breast bone. Tornaq (Spirit Creature) (2000) is a playful and dynamic sculpture that draws from a wide range of materials including whale bone, home-tanned sealskin, musk-ox hair, and stone. Ashoona has incorporated multiple figures within the bone of Tornaq (Spirit Creature); each of the spirit’s limbs ends in an animal-like figure, reaching outward from the body. In 2013-2014 this work was featured prominently in Angakkuq: Between Two Worlds, an exhibition held at the Art Gallery of Alberta. In 2009, Ashoona was invited to travel to the Haida Gwaii by Guujaaw, the president of the Council of the Haida Nation, to participate in an artist exchange at the Haida Gwaii Museum. The intent of the program was to foster cultural and technical exchange. Later in 2009, Ashoona was selected to be the artist in residence at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, the first artist from the Canadian arctic to receive this opportunity. Ashoona has travelled extensively throughout North America for her art practice resulting in a unique style that draws from, and amalgamates, multiple influences. In 2016, Ashoona’s sculptures were featured in the exhibition Temporal Re-Imaginings, which was held at Ajagemô, Canada Council's Art Space in Ottawa. This exhibition, organized by curator Alexandra Kahsenni:io Nahwegahbow, aimed to examine “the tracks artists have left behind as they traverse temporal territories and other worlds.” The exhibition established a dialogue between an array of artists from several provinces and territories, examining how Canada’s Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, Metis) peoples have interacted with one another, historically and in contemporary practice. In addition to her sculpture practice, Ashoona is also a throat singer. Her performances include the 2004 CBC symphony orchestra accompaniment, a national radio performance, and in 2007 she performed at the Atlin Music Festival. -Inuit Art Foundation
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