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Shuvinai Ashoona

Composition (Monster Eating the World)


Shuvinai Ashoona
Born in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, in 1961


Composition (Monster Eating the World)




Coloured pencil, felt pen


38.3 x 58.8 cm


Purchase, Mary Eccles Bequest, inv. 2018.319


Graphic Arts

Shuvinai Ashoona is an Inuit artist whose brightly coloured works combine everyday scenes of her Arctic home and Inuit life with a unique iconography of fantastical worlds inhabited by monstrous forms and mythical beings sourced from her imagination. Composition (Monster Eating the World) features some of her recurring motifs, among them fictional planetary globes, a hunter, a monster and hybrid wildlife. Various interpretations can be ascribed to this scene, including a consideration of how colonization and climate change in their turn have brought tumultuous changes to the Inuit way of life, negatively impacting their Arctic homelands and, subsequently, their very subsistence. A monster is about to devour the world that a solitary Inuit hunter is standing on. One of two fish reaches out an elongated, humanlike arm towards that world – is it depositing the hunter or it is about to pick him up and place him on the smaller planet it is holding? Perhaps the fish is saving the hunter, representing all Inuit people, from the monster that is global warming by offering an alternative habitat? Or is it transporting him where he will be safer, inside such a monster? Ashoona’s drawing may propose an optimistic view of resilience, of a new, better future, where the Arctic will be as it once was, and where hunters will again be able to provide for their families.

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