Student Success

Museum studies intern curates Inuit art exhibition in uLethbridge Hess Gallery

Thanks to the significant donation from Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess to the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, and the extraordinary opportunities offered to Art History and Museum Studies students at the University of Lethbridge, visitors to the Hess Gallery have the chance to engage with never before exhibited Inuit art.

Exhibition curator and museum studies intern Jaylyn Potts. Photo by Angeline Simon.

Unikkausivut: Stories from the North opens Thursday, Jan. 16, curated by museums studies intern and senior fine arts student Jaylyn Potts. Featuring a selection of Inuit prints illustrating the colourful stories that have been passed down through generations, Potts’s motivation was to select artwork that has never publicly been shown at the U of L before, and the Hess donation provided numerous options from which to choose.

The gallery was selected to receive the extraordinary bequest from Marmie Hess in 2017 largely because they do so much to engage people with their vast art collection.

“Marmie wanted her gift to assist young people with learning about the arts and there is no better way to achieve this than to have a student curate an exhibition,” says Dr. Josephine Mills, gallery director and Art History/Museum Studies professor. “The student gets in-depth professional development and they bring a perspective to their curating that helps connect with students who visit the art gallery.”

Gallery staff have been working tirelessly to catalogue and manually enter over a thousand artworks into the database, with a significant amount of it being Inuit work.

“I was immediately drawn to the Inuit prints, particularly those that used a vibrant colour palette, had intricate and detailed texture, and had a unique and compelling title,” explains Potts. “While a significant amount of the works appear charming and playful, they are actually based on dark and gruesome Inuit stories. The juxtaposition between story and artwork provokes and inspires us as viewers to think about Inuit stories and the influence they have had on Inuit culture in the past and present.”

Unikkausivut: Stories from the North opens Thursday, Jan. 16 with an opening reception at 4 p.m., remarks from the director at 4:30 p.m. followed by a curatorial talk with Potts. The exhibition runs until March 13, and is free to the public Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursdays until 8:30 p.m.