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  6. Anamorphosis: Work of emerging Inuit artist featured in new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery

Anamorphosis: Work of emerging Inuit artist featured in new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery

Graham Larose © Canadian Museum of Nature


Nancy Saunders examining part of her anamorphosis mural in progress in the Canadian Goose Arctic Gallery.

Ottawa, May 31, 2017 – Nancy Saunders, an Inuit artist based in Montreal, with roots in Kuujjuaq, Quebec, has been selected to create an original artistic piece for the Canadian Museum of Nature’s new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery.

Saunders created an original design inspired by her heritage that is being adapted to adorn the wing of the gallery, which opens June 21 as the museum’s Canada 150 legacy project. The finished piece will span seven walls, with the central image towering over visitors who enter the space.

Her work was selected following a juried competition by invitation for Indigenous Northern artists. They were asked to submit a piece that could be adapted to create an anamorphosis effect—an optical illusion technique that appears to present a two-dimensional work of art in three dimensions, with an image that  becomes fragmented when viewed from a different perspective. The competition was supported by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

The Canada Goose Arctic Gallery explores our Arctic through the region’s natural history and the intimate connections of the land to the people that live there. Nancy’s bold and colourful design speaks to an Inuit perspective of this environment and we are delighted to share her work in the new gallery,” explains Ailsa Barry, Vice-President of Experience and Engagement at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Saunders is now working with two mural painters to create a large-scale version of her work in the gallery. “This is the largest piece I have ever done, and I am both surprised and honoured to have my art chosen to be featured in this national museum,” says Saunders, an emerging multi-media artist best known for her realism drawings done in pencil.

Graham Larose © Canadian Museum of Nature.


Nancy Saunders’ artwork for the gallery.

Saunders’ composition fuses photo realism and abstract geometric shapes representing key aspects of Inuit culture, including ice, siniq (parks trims), and tattoos. The focus is a large-scale portrait of a traditional Inuit hunter, surrounded by photo realistic depictions of wildlife (a seal, geese and caribou) and Arctic flowers.

Although Saunders was always drawn to art, she only committed to it full-time following completion of a degree in social studies in 2010. In addition to traditional pencil drawings, she has explored working with acrylic and watercolor painting, and has discovered her capability in soapstone carving. Her first co-exhibition was at Montreal’s McClure Gallery in November 2015. In 2016, she completed a residency in Paris, France and most recently painted a mural at the health centre in her hometown of Kuujuaq. She is also an avid throat singer.

“I am living in the city but very much influenced by my Inuit culture so I try to reconcile both worlds in my work because both inspire me very much. I try to incorporate both urban and Inuit elements in my pieces,” explains Saunders.                                               

Visitors will be able to see Nancy Saunders’ anamorphosis work when the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery opens June 21, 2017. The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa.

Artist’s Statement - Nancy Saunders
In this drawing you will find an Inuit man holding a harpoon, along with two caribous, a ringed seal, and three Canadian geese. These four elements are drawn with graphite pencil. There are also Arctic flowers, an iceberg and a parka-trim design in this piece. These elements are painted with Japanese watercolor ink.

I drew the Inuit man from a photo and chose this specific model as I very much liked his stance - he seemed proud and stoic. His garments also showcase Inuit traditions and amazing ingenuity in using what the land offers in order to keep warm, which is true to this day. As for the animals, I chose to have them close to the man as they are an important part of Inuit life today, and I wanted to represent their importance with their proximity to the hunter. I chose to use non-local colors for the Arctic flowers to give a more dramatic look to the piece and painted them with a flat color (without shading) to stay with the overall look. As for the iceberg the man is standing on, I chose to represent it with triangular shapes to give a certain edge and contemporary aspect to the piece. I wanted an abstract look to the iceberg to create a contrast with the grey-scale pencil drawing element of the piece. I also incorporated a parka trim/tattoo design in the background. The trim in the sense of the colors, and the tattoo in the sense of the details and line arrangement.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca. The museum’s Centre for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration continues the museum’s legacy of more than 100 years of research, documentation, and collections about the biodiversity of Canada’s North. 

Information for media, or to arrange interviews:
Dan Smythe
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613-566-4781; 613-698-9253 (cell)