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Printed Textiles from the Kinngait Studios

Printed Textiles from the Kinngait Studios

Posted in: MAG Collection History

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Collections Spotlight: Printed Textiles from the Kinngait Studios

Hi everyone, my name is Katelin and I’m the Associate Curator of Clothing & Textiles at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery. Today I want to show you a really exciting object we found in the collection. 

Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery Collection# 1986.158.2
Screen Printed Drapery Fabric, Linen. Product of Kinngait Studios, West Baffin Island, Nunavut c. 1960s

What is the object?

What we have here is a 33m bolt of a screen printed fabric with these little creatures on it, maybe frogs. It is done in only two colours, but the artist has overlaid both colours in areas, giving the impression of more colours. The fabric is a natural coloured linen.

Initially we weren’t sure where this fabric came from, but after a little bit of research I found out that it is a fabric from Kinngait studios.

What is Kinngait studios?

Kinngait Studios was started in 1959 in Kinngait, Cape Dorset. It is the longest continuous running print studio in Canada. It was started when an artist from Toronto named James Houston showed Oshweetok Ipeelie, a skilled hunter and carver, the basic process of screen printing. Ipeelie immediately saw the potential in this method of art making and a marriage between the rich artistic practice of the Inuit and printing methods was born.

Why is it important?

This textile was designed for interior décor during a period when artist-designed textiles were popular in North America and Europe.  these mid-century designs depict legends, stories, and traditional ways of life. They provide vital points of connection between contemporary Inuit community members and the creativity and resourcefulness of previous generations.
These textiles are not only beautiful, they are a critical branch of Inuit artistic expression.

Where can we learn more?

The Textiles Museum of Canada in Toronto is currently exhibiting a wide selection of textiles and associated archival materials on the textiles and artists of Kinngait Studios. Though an in-person exhibition, a great deal of information is available on their website, which we have linked below.

You can also find more information on Kinngait Studios at
https://www.westbaffin.com/kinngait-studios

Textile Museum of Canada
https://textilemuseum.ca/exhibitions/museumathome-experience-printed-textiles-from-kinngait-studios/

Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios Exhibition Catalogue
https://shop.textilemuseum.ca/collections/exhibition-catalogues/products/printedtextilesofkinngaitstudios

An article on Digits & Threads, a Canadian online print magazine about textiles:
https://www.digitsandthreads.ca/inuit-art-printed-textiles-from-kinngait-studios-at-the-textile-museum-of-canada/

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