THE ARNAQARVIK PROGRAM
Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq / Kitikmeot Heritage Society is a Cambridge Bay based heritage organization dedicated to the revival of Inuinnait language and culture. In 2012, the organization received a large donation of clothing and artwork from Eva Strickler, an anthropologist and key figure behind Arnaqarvik's establishment. In 2017, they also began working with Arnaqarvik co-founder Judy McGrath to document her extensive collection of the group's sewing, craftwork, prototypes and ephemera. The confluence of these two major collections gave rise to ideas for celebrating Arnaqarvik's 50th anniversary.
The Arnaqarvik project began as a partnership between Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq and two of the original collective's founders--Judy McGrath and Arnouyok Alookee--to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Taloyoak women’s craft movement. The primary goal was to document and re-connect Taloyoak community to two comprehensive private collections of crafts, clothing, and marketing ephemera highlighting Arnaqarvik’s production. Through workshops, interviews, a digital database/exhibit and fashion show, this project makes collections accessible to celebrate and build upon the story of their making, meaning, and impact on local lives. The community documentation, voices and memories resulting from this project will serve as the foundation for future exhibitions of Arnaqarvik artwork.
The Arnaqarvik program focused on 4 distinct activities:
Most artwork created by Arnaqarvik was purchased by individuals outside of Taloyoak. Since 2019, we have worked with public and private collectors across North America to compile a searchable database containing documentation and digitized images/metadata on all known sewing and craft collections produced by Arnaqarvik.
MAKING COLLECTIONS ACCESSIBLE ONLINE
The Arnaqarvik project is seen as a valuable case study for increasing accessibility of Inuit collections for Inuit communities without the museum/exhibition infrastructure to physically host them. We have created a customized digital platform providing access to all Arnaqarvik records in our database. This platform encourages user contributions of content and metadata to existing collection records. Users can search through collections and easily upload their additional text, audio or video records. We continue to add new content to the Arnaqarvik platform, and to refine its development.
BRINGING COLLECTIONS HOME
We conducted a week long workshop in Taloyoak designed to showcase and document
Arnaqarvik objects. About 250 artworks from the Judy McGrath and Eva Strickler collections were transported to Taloyoak for four days of programming with local schoolchildren, Elders and community members. This work included interviews, lectures and sessions exploring first-hand memories of Arnaqarvik and its importance and impact in the community. A fashion show and photoshoot by Inuk photographer Cora DeVos helped to visually narrate the community's profound relationships with Arnaqarvik artwork.
CREATING A COMMUNITY-DEFINED LEGACY FOR ARNAQARVIK
The Arnaqarvik project focuses on documenting the memories, voices, and stories from Taloyoak community members in preparation for a 50th anniversary exhibition. It is important that the narrative for this anniversary be defined by individuals involved in and impacted by Arnaqarvik's half century of production. We held multiple workshops and recorded interviews with Taloyoak artists, Elders and community members to shape a community defined story regarding the importance and legacy of this artistic venue.
The Arnaqarvik program was generously supported by the following organizations: