Nancy Saunders, an Inuit artist based in Montreal, with roots in Kuujjuaq, Quebec, has been selected to create an original artistic piece for the Canadian Museum of Nature’s new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery.Saunders created an original design inspired by her heritage that is being adapted to adorn the wing of the gallery, which opens June 21 as the museum’s Canada 150 legacy project. The finished piece will span seven walls, with the central image towering over visitors who enter the space.Her work was selected following a juried competition by invitation for Indigenous Northern artists. They were asked to submit a piece that could be adapted to create an anamorphosis effect – an optical illusion technique that appears to present a two-dimensional work of art in three dimensions, with an image that becomes fragmented when viewed from a different perspective. The competition was supported by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
“The Canada Goose Arctic Gallery explores our Arctic through the region’s natural history and the intimate connections of the land to the people that live there. Nancy’s bold and colourful design speaks to an Inuit perspective of this environment and we are delighted to share her work in the new gallery,” explains Ailsa Barry, Vice-President of Experience and Engagement at the Canadian Museum of Nature.Saunders is now working with two mural painters to create a large-scale version of her work in the gallery. “This is the largest piece I have ever done, and I am both surprised and honoured to have my art chosen to be featured in this national museum,” says Saunders, an emerging multi-media artist best known for her realism drawings done in pencil.
Saunders’ composition fuses photo realism and abstract geometric shapes representing key aspects of Inuit culture, including ice, siniq (parks trims), and tattoos. The focus is a large-scale portrait of a traditional Inuit hunter, surrounded by photo realistic depictions of wildlife (a seal, geese and caribou) and Arctic flowers.
Although Saunders was always drawn to art, she only committed to it full-time following completion of a degree in social studies in 2010. In addition to traditional pencil drawings, she has explored working with acrylic and watercolor painting, and has discovered her capability in soapstone carving. Her first co-exhibition was at Montreal’s McClure Gallery in November 2015. In 2016, she completed a residency in Paris, France and most recently painted a mural at the health centre in her hometown of Kuujuaq. She is also an avid throat singer.
“I am living in the city but very much influenced by my Inuit culture so I try to reconcile both worlds in my work because both inspire me very much. I try to incorporate both urban and Inuit elements in my pieces,” explains Saunders.Visitors will be able to see Nancy Saunders’ anamorphosis work when the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery opens June 21, 2017. The Canadian Museum of Nature is located at 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa.