Oviloo Tunnillie (1949 – 2014) was one of the most respected Inuit artists from the Canadian Arctic and one of the very few female stone carvers to achieve international success. The exhibition is the first retrospective of her sculpture and brings together sixty-seven works from private and public collections in Canada and the United States.
The development of Tunnillie’s work is surveyed from its beginnings in 1966 until her death in 2014. Her early work reflects typical genres of realistic animals and human figures. But in the 1980s she began to explore less traditional themes, such as a football player in 1981. In the 1990s Tunnillie’s work became predominantly autobiographical, and she revealed her childhood trauma of contracting tuberculosis and being separated from her family to undergo treatment in Manitoba hospitals.
Tunnillie’s sculpture tells personal stories from her experiences in the Arctic as well as southern Canada. A seemingly endless range of emotions are revealed in the body language of her figures that bridge the cultural gaps and express the universality of human female experience.
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