In January 2010, during the Northern Lights tradeshow in Montreal, I had the great pleasure of meeting Judith Varney-Burch, Inuit art specialist, lecturer, curator, owner of art galleries, research collaborator to the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and honorary board member of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, nothing less!! For an afternoon, I had the opportunity to be her private chauffeur! What a pleasure it was to discover, in her company, the Inuit art collection of the Canadian Guild of Crafts.
For over 25 years, Judith has crisscrossed the Canadian North, more specifically Nunavut, to discover the Inuit population and its art. Along the way she has created close relationships with the artists and considers herself blessed to have had these superb human beings in her life. Her greatest joy is to do everything she can to make their art known and to tell the world how special these people are. Among other things, Judith is the curator of Culture on cloth, a collection of 19 tapestries by Baker Lake artists. Since 2002, the exhibit has traveled to more than 14 countries and its catalog has been translated in 12 languages. As I am writing these lines, the exhibit is about to leave Costa Rica and head for Paraguay where it will take part in the Bicentennial celebrations as well as the International Women’s Day, on March 8th. Later this year, it will head for Argentina and will be seen in Neuquén, in Patagonia, before being shown in Buenos Aires.
Recently, photographer Gaston Lacombe, created a wonderful video entitled “I See Them in Their Art” in which Judith talks about her life and her passion for Inuit art. We couldn’t have found a better opportunity to start our series of articles aimed at introducing you to some of the people who, like us, have been bitten by the Arctic bug! With no further delays, here is Gaston’s video. Thank you, Judith and Gaston, for allowing us to make use of your work.
Judith, the floor is now yours!