Germaine Arnaktauyok is one of the most beloved and well-known Nunavummiut visual artists. Germaine is an Inuk printmaker, painter, and drawer, originating from the Iglulik area. Her silkscreen design, The Drummer, was chosen by the Royal Canadian Mint for the two-dollar coin to mark the birth of Nunavut in 1999.
Her images depict ceremonies, customs, legends and the lived reality of events important to Inuit culture past and present. Arnaktauyok’s rich and beautifully coloured drawings depict a kaleidoscope of her heritage, ranging from astronomy to mythology to philosophy of forgotten times. Her images interpret the oral history telling of the shamans and curiosities of how life began, the importance of a strong harmony, and respect for all forms of life on Earth. Many of her drawings involve a theme of women’s roles and traditions in Inuit culture. Her drawings have featured traditional tattoos, women’s tools, and many aspects of motherhood and creation. Germaine has a remarkable ability to transport the viewer to the cold, windswept world of the Arctic with just one look at her drawings.
“[Arnaktauyok] has been creating art for most of her life. ‘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 . . . I never questioned being an artist. It seems I knew exactly what I wanted to be, and then I just worked at it.’
Arnaktauyok’s contribution to Canadian art is significant. She has been a serious artist for over 60 years and has continued to explore and develop artistically and professionally. She has charted her own course and created her own unique visual language and her lifelong interest in her own unique Inuit culture has been an inspiration to many younger artists.”
Nominator: Darlene Coward Wight, Curator of Inuit Art, on behalf of The Winnipeg Art Gallery
“Germaine Arnaktauyok has charted her own course and created her own unique visual language and her lifelong interest in her own unique Inuit culture has been an inspiration to many younger artists.”