Eva Qirniq Noah, an Inuk artist, says being chosen for a one-month residency at the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq feels surreal.
Noah is one of three artists from the territory who is participating in a new paid residency program designed to give Inuit artists time and space to develop their practice without the pressure of having to present a finished collection at the end of their stay.
"Somebody said to me yesterday, 'You're going to do something all day that you enjoy,' aside from work," she said.
Noah, who's from Baker Lake, Nunavut, is on leave from her day job as a public servant to attend the all-inclusive residency.
"It still has to sink in," she said.
Noah, a mother and grandmother, said she first began creating art with textiles as a way of earning more income to support her kids.
"Thirty years ago, I decided to sew some art with duffel and felt just to make extra income, 'cause I have four kids and they all have food, bed, clothes, but if they wanted something extra, I wanted to make that extra income, so it just grew."
Noah says her art is inspired by stories her father told her, and features Inuit legends, snow oils and fish. According to a statement from the museum, she has said that she plans to use her time in the residency to expand her art practice into acrylic painting.
Dayle Kubliuitok, an Inuk and Dene illustrator and digital artist, said they were similarly in awe when they learned they had been chosen for the residency.
"It's unreal. When I got the congratulations letter, I was thinking like, any minute now they're just going to come back and say, 'This is all a joke, we're lying,'" they said.
According to the museum, Kubliuitok, who's from Iqaluit, blends traditional Indigenous motifs and contemporary aesthetics in their art, often including well-known characters from digital pop culture. Their practice has been shaped by Inuit stories that speak to themes of resilience, connection to nature, and the supernatural as well as animated series.
Kubliuitok, who's 26, often shares their art on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.
"The way I got started with art was just art class … [I] loved it so much, and my art teacher was just so encouraging that I just kind of really stuck with it," they said.
The residency runs from Jan. 19 to Feb. 16 and also includes Aghalingiak Okokannoak, a multimedia artist from Cambridge Bay.