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Kablusiak Shortlisted for $100,000 Sobey Art Award

Kablusiak Shortlisted for $100,000 Sobey Art Award

The first Inuvialuk artist ever nominated for the prestigious national art prize.
By Jacob Boon
Jun 14

Inuvialuk artist Kablusiak is one of five shortlisted nominees for this year's $100,000 Sobeys Art Award.

It's the first time an Inuvialuk artist is nominated for the national prize, and the second ever Inuk artist shortlisted after Annie Pootoogook, who won in 2006.

Raised in Edmonton, Kablusiak’s family is originally from Tuktoyaktuk and Sachs Harbour, NWT. The artist, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, now lives and works in Calgary.

Through a variety of mediums—everything from felt-stitched panels to sex toys carved from soapstone—the artist's work aims to redefine the “cultural diaspora” of being an urban Inuk.

“I’m still trying to figure it out myself as to not frame it a sad-sack story of a cultureless person because that's definitely not the case,” they told CBC’s Avery Zingel earlier this year. “It's important to acknowledge that sure, I'm diasporic, but people have been adjusted and people can thrive, wherever.”

Disposable razor. Soapstone and tung oil. 2018

The Sobey nomination follows numerous career milestones for the 26-year-old Alberta University of the Arts alumni, says the Inuit Art Foundation in announcing the news Thursday. Kablusiak’s work has been exhibited across the country and received a Primary Colours Emerging Artist Award. They’re also part of the curatorial team for the inaugural exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new Inuit Art Centre.

“From felted wall hangings of a young man texting on a toilet to carvings of a disposable razor, butt plug and more, the artist employs humour to extend gestures of empathy and solidarity while inviting viewers to reconsider perceptions of contemporary indigeneity,” writes the IAF.

Untitled Ghost Series, Inuvik. NorthMart. 2018.

Kablusiak joins D’Arcy Wilson of Newfoundland and Labrador, Stephanie Comilang of Toronto, Anne Low of Vancouver and Nicolas Grenier of Montreal in vying for the $100,000 award which is given annually to a Canadian artist under 40.

Four other finalists will receive $25,000, and one shortlisted finalist will win an artistic residency.

The 2019 price will be awarded at a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Alberta on November 15.