Yellowknife-based artist Germaine Arnaktauyok launches her new book today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Visual Effects Gallery, YK Centre West, 4905 48th Street.
My Name is Arnaktauyok is an illustrated memoir, reflecting on the celebrated artist’s traditional Inuit upbringing in a camp near Igloolik; her move to a residential school and her education in Southern art schools; and her return to the North. She also shares insight on the inspiration behind many of her most iconic works, accompanied by over 100 full-colour reproductions of her drawings and etchings.
“One time, in the springtime, I was playing near the shore. Like all Inuit kids, we used to play on the shore when the ice was breaking. My parents told us to be careful, but I had this great idea that I should go on an ice pan. There were some broken parts; the shore was melting and breaking. I was playing on it and I fell in the water, in the cold Arctic Ocean. I went under the water, and I remember trying hard to breathe. After a few minutes it was okay; I forgot about drowning, and everything felt just fine. Then I heard my father say, ‘Come over this way.’ So I thought, ‘Okay, yes.’ There were lots of currents under the ice and my father was becoming desperate because I was sinking. My long hair was swept right into his hand by the current, so he was able to reach me by my hair. He pulled me out. If he hadn’t, I would have died.
I remember my father laying me on the ice. I was trying to breathe again. Somehow I got my breath, and got up and walked home. Then my mother gave me strong tea, which made me vomit water. I went to sleep after that, and that was the end of it.
I like drawing Sedna like this with her long hair under the water. I had long hair when I was drowning, and that saved my life.”