An Ottawa treasure, The Nordic Lab at The Saw Gallery is a space for Northern artists to create and learn. Two-spirit Iqaluktuuttiaq artist and writer Aedan Corey is a new participant, bringing Nunavut-lived experiences from a town of 1,700.
Inuit Futures promotes knowledge-sharing between artists. Their Pilimmaksarniq/Pijariuqsarniq Project gave Corey a very special opportunity. In Corey’s words, the program “supports Inuit and Inuvialuit in becoming artistic leaders within their communities through mentorship and training opportunities. Based off of my artistic interests, Inuit Futures was able to pair me with a mentor, Taqralik Partridge” at The Nordic Lab, who will support Corey by sharing their wealth of art knowledge.
Change is daunting, Corey says: “When I initially began working with SAW and Nordic Lab I was a bit nervous, because I hadn’t had much experience working within the arts. Aside from the nerves, though, I was also very excited to have the opportunity to learn new skills, work alongside the team, and contribute to projects that are close to my heart.”
Corey is presently working as a project coordinator for a two-part webinar event discussing traditional Inuit tattooing. “As someone who practices Inuit tattooing, it’s been really exciting to put this together.”
I asked Corey to share more about Inuit tattooing: “It’s a practice that existed within Inuit culture prior to colonization. With the introduction of the church, Inuit tattoos became effectively banned, as the missionaries believed that the practice was evil. Over the last 7 to 10 years, there has been a strong effort to reclaim this cultural practice. A big factor in this reclamation process in Canada, but more specifically Nunavut, was the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project—a group of women dedicated to giving fellow Inuit women within several communities in Nunavut their traditional tattoos. Now, many Inuit have not just reclaimed their markings, but have begun to learn the tattooing process as well, to make sure the practice remains alive.”
Corey’s upcoming event Inuit Ink “will discuss different aspects of the reclamation process.” Follow @galleriesawgallery for details.
“I’m always open to new experiences, especially ones that involve gaining skills that I can apply within my own artistic practices,” Corey says. Helping print merchandise for Pique allowed them to “dive into the more technical aspects of what it takes to create art” and introducing them to new techniques that one day they will teach to others. “It’s important for me to be open about the knowledge I’m gaining through these opportunities. I am always happy to share what I know!”
The Nordic Lab has already made a lasting impression. “It’s so crucial to have space/opportunities for Northern Indigenous artists,” Corey says. “Speaking from the perspective of an Inuk, our communities are filled with talented artists in many disciplines. These are voices that deserve to be heard … allow these artists to shine.”