Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit August 27, 2012 - 7:29 am

Nunavut Arctic College student wins national award for her art

“I’m a little bit shy about my art work. I always have been"

SAMANTHA DAWSON
Nunavut Arctic College student Lavina Van Heuvelen explores Inuit legend and shamanism in her print “Guardian Spirit” that’s slated to be shown at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto this October.  (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Nunavut Arctic College student Lavina Van Heuvelen explores Inuit legend and shamanism in her print “Guardian Spirit” that’s slated to be shown at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto this October. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Guardian Spirit,
Guardian Spirit," a print by Lavinia Van Heuvelen,19, a student at Nunavut Arctic College, has won an award from the Bank of Montreal 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition for emerging student artists. “When I was considering the concept for this piece, I spoke to my friends, who also remembered different Inuit legends from our youth, which helped inspire me,” Van Heuvelen said in her artist’s statement. (FILE IMAGE)

After sketching her vision on paper, Lavina Van Heuvelen carefully carved the image of a drum, a young man, a dog and a fallen inuksuk into a piece of linoleum, getting the page ready to be inked with a bright orange and vibrant blue.

The result? “Guardian Spirit” a lino-cut print that would win her $5,000 in the Bank of Montreal 1st Art Invitational Student Art Competition.

Nunavut Arctic College student Van Heuvelen was one of 12 regional winners in the competition.

The award honours visual arts excellence in post-secondary institutions from across Canada.

This year’s winners were selected from 235 entries. 

Now Van Heuvelen, 19, is receiving national recognition for her work.

The second year jewellery and metalwork student said she was “just so happy, just thrilled,” when she found out she had won and that her piece would be put on display in Toronto. 

“I’m a little bit shy about my art work, I always have been, but I really think being in the class that I was in helped me a lot, just because they were all so encouraging,” Van Heuvelen said.

Her jewelry and metalwork class got together to create and submit prints to the competition as part of their course work.

But Van Heuvelen always loved art, and used to watch her mother paint.

And though she grew up in Bowmanville, Ontario, Van Heuvelen felt a connection to Nunavut.

Her mother, Ilisapi Gordon, was born and raised in Iqaluit, and Van Heuvelen has been coming North since she was very young.

But it wasn’t until after high school, where she took many art classes, that she thought about moving to Nunavut on her own.

Van Heuvelen thought about culinary arts but “at the last minute I changed my mind and I just wanted to come here so bad,” she said.

Then she found out about the jewelry and metal works program.

So after a year of living with her grandmother and going back and forth Van Heuvelen came to stay.

Van Heuvelen said she likes her program at the college because it’s “hands on.”

After starting her studies, she read a book about the oral history of Nunavut and the information about shamans interested her.

That’s what “Guardian Spirit” is about: the inuksuk, a directional marker, has fallen down, showing the young man has lost his way.

Dressed in traditional parka, kamiks and mitts, he kneels toward the dog in the print, symbolizing a connection between the figures.

Van Heuvelen approached the work with a belief that shamans are spirit helpers, and can come in the form of an animal to help steer someone on the right course. 

Now she’ll get to meet other student artists at an opening gala.

Her work and the other winning pieces will be on display in Toronto at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art Oct. 3 to Oct. 28.

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