March 26 – June 5, 2022

Janet Kigusiuq’s practice explores the relationship between representation and abstraction. Like her mother, Jessie Oonark, Janet was born in the Back River area some 200 kilometres north of Qamani’tuaq. She lived through the starvation period of the 1950s before their relocation to Qamani’tuaq and was married at the age of eleven, likely as a means to help ensure her family’s survival. Janet grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories, but she said that the best listener was her sister, Victoria Mamnguqsualuk, which may account for the rich narratives in Janet’s work.

Janet’s particular interest was in representing the land—particularly that of the family’s summer camp at Kitikat. There, she portrayed the waters, swarms of mosquitoes, lakes, lichen, and the drying of fish. Her landscapes came to be represented by large swaths of colour and look like Color Field paintings but are rooted in her acute knowledge of place. Janet began making collages later in life when her arthritis made it increasingly difficult to create detailed drawings. Collage, with a focus on the interlacing of shape and colour, became a way to further represent the land and life around her. She was known to be inspired by the “in-between time” at dusk and how this shifting light brought out different characteristics in the land. In her works on paper, the between time was represented by a rhythm she achieved through the proximity of forms, making the land itself a pattern.

Made possible with the generous support of the Power Corporation of Canada, Superframe, and the Women Leading Initiative. Double Vision: Jessie Oonark, Janet Kigusiuq, and Victoria Mamnguqsualuk is on view at the Textile Museum March 8–August 14, 2022.

Audio Didactic:


Janet Kigusiuq (Inuit, born in 1926, Garry Lake, Canada; died in 2005, Baker Lake, Canada) began to draw in the late 1960s. She worked in various media throughout her career, from drawings to prints to wall hangings and collages. Her subject matter referred to the traditional life she lived until settling in Qamani’tuaq / Baker Lake. Traditional material and social culture provided imagery, as did myths and legends. These themes are echoed in her appliqué and embroidery wall hangings. In the last decade of her life, Kigusiuq began to create collages out of tissue paper, acrylic and polymer that prefigured her colour-field works.

Exhibition Site

Textile Museum of Canada

55 Centre Ave
Toronto ON
M5G 2H5