Sandra Barz: Explorations in Inuit Art & Culture
  

 

Sandra Barz with friends standing on sea ice with a Kamotik (sled) on a school trip in Rankin Inlet.

In October 2016, Sandra Barz will be receiving an honourary degree from the University of Manitoba. To commemorate this occasion, the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections has digitized select photographs from her fonds. This online exhibit showcases some of these photographs to document Barz's travels to the Canadian Arctic, namely Cape Dorset, Baker Lake, Pangnirtung and Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.  

 

Dog sledding in Rankin Inlet. 

 

A view of Cape Dorset.

 These travels were motivated by her passion for art, particularly Inuit prints. However, Barz truly immersed herself in Inuit culture, connecting with the community not only through their art centres and studios but also through their schools, churches, and businesses. She also attended town meetings and public forums, enabling her to gain a better appreciation of indigenous knowledge, understand the key issues faced by the communities she visited, and hear their stories directly.

Mrs. Tartuk, an Elder in Rankin Inlet, shows school children how to "keep" the kudlik.

Artwork in Rankin Inlet. The syllabics identify the artist as Silassie.

Gaining first-hand knowledge of Inuit art history and creation in these communities was equally important to Barz. Throughout her travels, she connected with numerous local Inuit artists and sought to observe and learn more about the Inuit printmaking processes so that she could document this area of art with greater understanding and work alongside the artists.

Inuit man working on a stone cut print in Cape Dorset.

Inuit printmaker and sculptor Kananginak Pootoogook working on a print in Cape Dorset.

 Beyond printmaking, Barz also documented other Inuit art mediums, such as sculpting and weaving. She further helped expand appreciation for northern culture and the Arctic environment by organizing tours of the area, connecting participants with artists and printmakers along the way, and reporting on her trips in issues of "Arts and Culture of the North", a journal which she edited from 1976 to 1984.

Inuit artist working on a tapestry in a weaving shop in Pangnirtung.

Inuit artist George Arlu carves outside in Baker Lake.

Through her writing, and her exploration of Northern Canada, Barz strove to strengthen the bonds between North and South, encouraging and increasing interest in Inuit art internationally by working with art galleries and museums, Inuit organizations and artists, and art collectors.

From left to right: Mathewsie Amarualik, Davidee Naluktuk, Paulossie Kasaluak and Bernadette Imerguituk welcome a group of Inuit art dealers to the Arctic Showcase in New York.

Her dedication to Inuit art spans over forty years. During this time, Barz helped to define a unique realm of art which was relatively unknown by compiling information on Inuit artists and the evolution of printmaking. The results of her tireless efforts have helped to build a lasting legacy for both creators and enthusiasts of Inuit art.

View digitized material from the Sandra Barz fonds

Browse the Sandra Barz finding aid

Related material:

Browse the National Gallery of Canada's Inuit Artists' Print Database, an online version of the Inuit Artists Print Workbook edited by Sandra Barz