Sanaugaq: Things Made By Hand

2011, Art, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Temporary Exhibit
Canada, collecting, contemporary art, drawing, guilds, history, indigenous interest, Inuit interest, print-making, prints, sculpture, University of Toronto
About This Project

Date: March 31 – April 16, 2011
Partner: Art Museum at the University of Toronto
Venue: University of Toronto Art Centre – map
Project Members: Rheanne Chartrand, Lianne Maitland, Rebecca Noone, and Lisa Truong


The 1950s mark the birth of the Inuit fine art industry, which quickly grew to national and international acclaim. Its origins, however, are complex and inextricably entwined with commercialism. Sanuagaq is a critical examination of these roots, seeking to explore the tensions between artistic expression and commercial expectations which arise from creating Northern art for a Southern audience.


Sanaugaq is primarily intended for a university audience, both students and faculty. The exhibit is also intended for anyone with an interest in Inuit art such as dealers, collectors, artists, and First Nations and Inuit.


This exhibition is located in the West Gallery at the University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC). UTAC is located on the University of Toronto St. George Campus. The artworks on display come from several University of Toronto collections, so it made the most sense to exhibit at UTAC. Also, UTAC supports student-curated exhibitions. The major sponsors, in turn, were, University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC) and the Faculty of Information.


Planning Sanaugaq: Things Made By Hand began in September 2010. The whole exhibition production process took seven months. In mid-November, we made our preliminary selection of artworks for the exhibit and confirmed our selection by late January. The research was conducted both during and after the selection process. Text writing and editing took began late January and continued until mid-March. Installation took two days, March 28 and 29, and the exhibit opened March 31.


Sanaugaq included 18 works, including prints, drawings, sculpture, textile art, and books. The exhibition was organized thematically to address the exhibition thesis. There were six thematic text panels. All the objects had tombstone labels. The introductory panel was located on a temporary, movable wall that was placed in the middle of the gallery space. There were no interactives, however, the textual content was written to be thought-provoking.


UTAC provided a great deal our marketing. They featured the exhibition on their website and in their e-newsletters, advertised through the University of Toronto student newspapers, and secured a listing in Slate Art Guide. Additional advertising was done on U of T campus and in art  “hot spots” in Toronto (i.e. Artscape Wychwood Barns, Queen St. W). A media release was sent out a week before the exhibition opened. The curators also used Facebook and Twitter. Programming for Sanaugaq included a symposium, Whose Art Is It Anyway?, held on Tuesday, April 5 and a curatorial tour held on April 13.


We’d like to talk the staff at UTAC for their hard work and dedication to Sanaugaq. We’d also like to pay special thanks to the symposium speakers and our translator. Lastly, thanks to faculty in the MMSt program, the installation crew, and the many other professionals who offered their time and expertise.