Inuk artist Germaine Arnaktauyok has won a Governor General’s Award in visual and media arts.
Arnaktauyok is a printmaker, painter and drawer, originally from Igloolik, Nunavut, and now based in Yellowknife.
Canada Council for the Arts named Arnaktauyok as one of the winners on its Facebook page Tuesday.
“When I was a child, it seemed natural for me to make art. I can remember drawing on gum wrappers and any bits and pieces of paper I could find,” Arnaktauyok was quoted on the council’s website.
“I never questioned being an artist. It seems I knew exactly what I wanted to be, and then I just worked at it.”
The Royal Canadian Mint chose her silkscreen design, The Drummer, on the toonie to mark the birth of Nunavut in 1999. She’s also the subject of the book My Name Is Arnaktauyok: The Life and Art of Germaine Arnaktauyok, which launched in Yellowknife in 2015.
Arnaktauyok has been an artist for more than 60 years. Her art depicts ceremonies, customs and legends related to Inuit culture past and present. Many of her themes are also around women’s roles and traditions, and have been featured in traditional Inuit tattoos, the council said.
“Arnaktauyok’s rich and beautifully coloured drawings depict a kaleidoscope of her heritage, ranging from astronomy to mythology to philosophy of forgotten times,” the council’s statement said.
The council says The Winnipeg Art Gallery’s curator of Inuit art nominated Arnaktauyok for the award.
The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were created in 1999 by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Governor General of Canada. Up to eight awards are distributed every year; each winner receives a medallion and $25,000.