Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 14, 2016 - 7:00 am

Huge self-portraits raising awareness and donations in Toronto

Embassy of Imagination will use money for more youth murals

THOMAS ROHNER
Self portraits by Cape Dorset youths adorn the walls of Mississauga's Square One Mall, just west of Toronto. From left: Tommy Quvianaqtuliaq, Latch Akesuk, Cie Taqiasuk and Holly Josephee. (PHOTOS COURTESY EOI)
Self portraits by Cape Dorset youths adorn the walls of Mississauga's Square One Mall, just west of Toronto. From left: Tommy Quvianaqtuliaq, Latch Akesuk, Cie Taqiasuk and Holly Josephee. (PHOTOS COURTESY EOI)
Alexa Hatanaka, left, from Embassy of Imagination, helps Cie Taqiasuk during the linoleum-cut print workshop in March at the Cape Dorset youth centre. (PHOTO COURTESY EOI)
Alexa Hatanaka, left, from Embassy of Imagination, helps Cie Taqiasuk during the linoleum-cut print workshop in March at the Cape Dorset youth centre. (PHOTO COURTESY EOI)

If you’re visiting Mississauga’s Square One Mall, just west of Toronto, you might be startled to find four 23-foot-high faces of Kinngait youth staring down at you.

The self-portraits are part of a fundraising exhibit organized by two Toronto artists, Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka, who have been coming to the North for youth art projects for nearly a decade. 

The exhibit will raise money for their next youth art workshops, run by the couple’s Embassy of Imagination, next summer in Kinngait.

The exhibit also offers southern Canadians the chance to learn more about Nunavut and see first-hand the artistic talent the territory has to offer, Thompson told Nunatsiaq News Dec. 13.

“Someone asked me, ‘why don’t you drive the youth down from Dorset for the exhibit?’” Thompson said.

“So I had to explain, ‘well it’s a bit harder than that.’ But it shows how little people know about Nunavut.”

The four giant portraits were selected from a workshop held by the Embassy of Imagination in Cape Dorset’s youth centre earlier this year.

Self-portraits by Kinngait youths Tommy Quvianaqtuliaq, Latch Akesuk, Cie Taqiasuk and Holly Josephee were selected to be blown up to epic size.

“When people see works blown up that big, they often react to the artists like it’s a super-hero feat,” Thompson said.

“This exhibit is important because it gives kids an opportunity for empowerment, to show their work. And it gives a southern audience a chance to learn things they should know.”

The owners of Square One will match fundraising efforts up to $10,000, Thompson said.

That money will go towards a project to paint a mural with youth on the Kinngait Community Hall next summer, he added.

Later in the summer, the Embassy of Imagination will take some Cape Dorset youth to Toronto and Ottawa for two massive mural projects, similar to experience what the Toronto artists have done with youth for the past two summers, in Toronto and Montreal.

“We’re looking for any support we can get. The impact of a project like this is massive.  It’s good for Dorset, it’s good for the kids, it’s good for all of Canada to see what they can do.”

The exhibit in Square One will be up for the next three months, Thompson said.

If you would like to donate to the Embassy of Imagination to help fund their arts workshops in Cape Dorset, you can donate on their website by clicking here.

To see a short video about the different art projects done by Embassy of the Imagination in Kinngait last summer, you can click here.

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