2022 IAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia

Our first West Coast meeting was held in Vancouver, Canada, September 29 – October 2 at the Sylvia and Best Western Sands hotels.

photo of mini-ferries in False Creek during the 2022 Inuit Art Society Meeting in Vancouver, Canada © Cindy Carlsson
False Creek in Vancouver

This was a great opportunity to re-connect, hear fabulous presentations from a variety of artists and writers, visit galleries, and learn about indigenous art from across Canada at the UBC Museum of Anthropology.

Our meeting was held on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. We thank them for welcoming us to their territories.

(Go here for information on other IAS Annual Meetings.)

September 29: Welcome reception at the Sylvia Hotel

Introductions – Michael Foor-Pessin, IAS Board President

Welcome – Susan Rowley, AACS Board President and Director, UBC Museum of Anthropology

Sophia Tasseor Lebessis: “Chasing the Inuk Imagination: The Co-Existence of Tradition and Change and its Evolutionary Effect on Inuit Art”

The pursuit of the Inuk imagination has long been a solo journey to connect. The co-existence of tradition and change and its evolutionary effect on Inuit art is our next frontier. Are you ready?

photo of Sophia LebessisLebessis, an Inuk scholar and the owner of Transformation Fine Art gallery in Calgary.

Inuit on her mother’s side and Greek on her father’s side, Sophia’s unique cultural background influenced a keen perspective of culture and art. Growing up among master artists of the Kivaliq region in her family-run art cooperative, Sophia was immersed in the procurement of Inuit art, from creation to distribution. Sophia’s gallery is Canada’s first Inuk-owned Inuit art Gallery, and Sophia believes the industry is going through a radical shift in Inuit art appreciation, a shift rooted in reconciling Canadian education of Indigenous peoples.

Sophia Tasseor Lebessis Inuit art tag

September 30: Presentations at the Sands Hotel

We enjoyed a day filled with fascinating presentations and plenty of opportunities to add to our collections and talk with the speakers and other collectors.

Dr. Norma Dunning: “Inuit: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”

photo of Dr Norma DunningDr. Dunning is a Padlei Inuk author and educator whose book Tainna: The Unseen Ones won the Governor General’s Literary Award. Her latest book, Kinauvit? (what’s your name?), takes a deep look the Canadian Eskimo disc identification system. It was released shortly after she spoke at our meeting.

For her presentation, she read passages from her books that present Inuit life during different time periods in Canada.

 Drew Ann Wake: “Voices of the Elders”

photo of John T'seleie, Drew Ann Wake, and professor Michael Jackson

In the 1970s, Drew Ann Wake was a young reporter for the CBC, working in the Western Arctic. Over several years she recorded stories with dozens of Elders. She is now engaged in a project that takes the voices of those Elders – and the sculptures and prints they created – back to schools in Western Arctic communities. There, we hope that the stories and art works will inspire young people to begin their own artistic careers.

Wake is an anthropologist and media producer who has spent forty-five years working with Indigenous organizations in the Northwest Territories. She is currently working on an exhibition, River Journeys, under the leadership of the Gwich’in Tribal Council.

Her presentation will feature artwork she has collected over the last fifty years that match those old stories, including prints from Ulukhaktok artists like Helen Kalvak, Agnes Nanogak, and Mark Emerak, as well as sculptures by David Ruben Piqtoukun of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT.

(She’s pictured here with Dene leader John T’seleie and law professor Michael Jackson.)

Lindsay McIntyre: “Changing Glances: Nanook of the North and 100 Years Later”

2022 is the 100th anniversary of Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North, and in light of this Lindsay McIntyre will explore how far Inuit have come in 100 years, exploring and sharing pieces from her own practice alongside other contemporary Inuit filmmakers and artists who are changing the way we look to the North.

photo of film artist Lindsay McIntyre

McIntyre is a film artist from Edmonton of Inuk/European descent. She holds an MFA in Film and a BFA in Painting and Drawing. Most of her work uses 16mm film to explore portraiture, place, form, and personal histories.

Besides pursuing her own work, she is an Assistant Professor of Film and Screen Art a Emily Carr University.

Abraham Anghik Ruben: “The Origins of The Inuit: An Overview from the 17th Century to the Present”

A well-known master sculptor, Abraham Anghik Ruben’s work explores the ancient stories, myths, and legends of northern cultures. Ruben’s work can be found in major private and public collections around the world. His 5-ton limestone carving titled “Time to Play” is featured in the courtyard in front of the new Winnipeg Art Gallery – Qaumajuq.

He was born in Paulatuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Northwest Territories.

Jamie Cameron: “A collector, the collection, and reflections on collecting over the years”

photo of Jamie Cameron

To some extent a collecting memoir, the presentation will provide a sketch of some key milestones in my evolution as a collector of Inuit art. This will include images from the collection and some pictures from the north. On a more reflective note, I will share some thoughts about the pathway of Inuit art – where it began, where it has been, and where its future may lead.

Jamie Cameron and her husband, Chris Bredt, are long-time collectors of Inuit art, as well as of aboriginal art from other communities. They have supported the arts over the years, including by donating parts of their collection to public institutions, and are frequent travelers to Canada’s north.

Ms Cameron is a member of IAS and serves on the Inuit Art Foundation board.

October 1: Vancouver Inuit art tour

Inuit Gallery in North Vancouver

Our first stop was at Inuit Gallery in their new home in North Vancouver where owner Melanie Zavediuk welcomed us and talked about art and artists, the gallery, the business of selling Inuit art.

photo inside the Inuit Gallery in Vancouver Canada

And then she and the rest of the gallery staff answered all sorts of questions as we browsed and made a few purchases.


Some of us also took a few minutes to explore a bit of this rapidly redeveloping North Vancouver neighborhood.

UBC Museum of Anthropology

We began with a box lunch featuring an amazing smoked salmon. As we sat and ate inside this scaled-down model of a traditional Haida structure, Susan Rowley, curator at the Museum of Anthropology, talked about the history of the Indigenous people of the area and collecting their art, along with some of the issues around such collections. She also explained why there is a Haida building, but no buildings representing the nations that actually lived in this area.

photo of people inside the Haida House at UBC Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver Canada © Cindy Carlsson

After lunch we had a little bit of time to look around outside.

photo of an Pacific Northwest long house at the UBC Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver Canada

And then it was time to head inside where Susan gave us lots of fascinating information about pieces in the museum’s collection, both Northwest Coast and Inuit.

photo of contemporary Northwest Coast artwork at the UBC Museum of Anthropology © Cindy Carlsson

But most people would probably agree that the highlight was a chance to see get a close-up look at pieces not on display!


It was great to see these wonderful pieces up-close while Rowley told us about each of them. But for we non-Native people, it was still a “look, but don’t touch” experience. But this room is often used to allow Indigenous people to not only see pieces in the museum collection, but to be able to handle them. So, when our Inuit and Greek speaker Sophia Tasseor Lebessis was captivated by a lovely cape, she was allowed to wear it for a moment.

photo of Inuit and Greek artist, scholar, and gallery owner Sophia Tasseor Lebessis at the UBC Museum of Anthropology © Cindy Carlsson

Now, how cool is that!

Marion Scott Gallery

Our final stop for the day was at Marion Scott Gallery, where gallery owner Robert Kardosh talked about Inuit art and artists in general, and the work of Shuvinai Ashoona, in particular.

Robert Kardosh at Marion Scott Gallery in Vancouver Canada© Cindy Carlsson

photo of a person looking at the work of Inuit artist Shuvinai Ashoona at Marion Scott Gallery in Vancouver © Cindy Carlsson

October 2: Presentations at the Sands

We ended the 2022 meeting with a couple more sessions that covered both how an artist looks at her work and how those who sell Indigenous art see in present and future.

Amanda Davison: “Capturing the Beauty of My Home”

Amanda Davison is a young Inupiak artist from Nome, Alaska. Her art is inspired by her traditional lifestyle and the scenery that surrounds her.

She presented her lovely paintings to IAS/AACS members during a virtual event in 2021 and we were delighted to have her join us in person.

Panel Discussion: “Through the Dealers Eyes: A Conversation on the Inner Workings of the Inuit Art Market”

Panel Discussion moderated by Michael Warren of the Madrona Gallery. Panelists: Charles Bateman (Marion Scott Gallery), Sophia Lebessis (Transformation Fine Art), Melanie Zavediuk (Inuit Gallery of Vancouver)

Full Schedule of Events

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