2015 Artist Biographies

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Elizabeth Gordon - Sculpture/Painter - Bowman, ON

Elizabeth Gordon was born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut. She was taught to create with her hands, the earliest memory being when her great aunt taught her to sew seal skin ukpiit (ookpiks). She watched and learned the resourceful inclinations of her people and naturally carried that forward into her own family. She now lives in Ontario, raising her four children and making gourd art. She was attracted to gourds because of their natural beauty, their history of uses all over the world by Aboriginals, and the many ways that it is used to create art. Elizabeth incorporates northern images into her gourd artwork by painting with acrylic paints or inks and dyes, wood burning, sculpting, or carving. She has been a member of the Canadian Gourd Society for 5 years and has won numerous ribbons every year in the annual Gourdfest competitions in Toronto and Buckhorn, as well as winning best of show in 2009.  Elizabeth also has many other artistic interests, including doll making, sculpting polymer clay faces of Inuit elders, making wooden wall hangings, and folk art paintings. She has been selling her original creations in Nunavut and Nunavik for more than 10 years.


Edith Haogak - Traditional Arts - Sachs Harbour, NT

Edith was born on Victoria Island and now lives in Sachs Harbour, NT. She began sewing as a young girl learning to make clothing for her family. Edith is an accomplished traditional seamstress and makes caribou mukluks, parkas and muffs. She enjoys making nice clothing and crafts and is inspired by “animals, life and happy people!”


Helen Iguptak - Traditional Arts - Rankin Inlet, NU

Helen was born in Perry River, NT and has been creating art since she was seven years old. She specializes in wallhangings and doll-making; she started making dolls for playing and fun and is now an established artist. Helen was part of the 2010 Olympic exhibition and has had exhibited in the Burnaby Art Gallery, Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Inuit Art Museum in Toronto, ON.



Shelly MacDonald - Jewelry - Whitehorse, YT

Shelley MacDonald earned her B.F.A in Jewellery Design and metalsmithing from NSCAD University in Halifax N.S in 2011. Shelley started her own business in 2005 and has been designing and creating jewellery in the Yukon since 2011.
Shelley interprets natural elements in metal to obscure the connection between botanical forms and the body. This organic style reflects her study of orchids and other flora, which displays tenacity over urban structures.
Shelley challenges herself to represent the relationship of organic elements to the lines and shape of the body, while maintaining the inherent strength in metal. Since moving to the Yukon, Shelley draws and incorporates her inspiration from the northern beauty of her visual environment, which emulates through her more recent collections.
From a small studio in Whitehorse, Shelley uses a variety of materials including up-cycled leather and fur from First Nations in the Yukon, metals, stones, ivory, musk ox horn and wood. All of her items are handmade and one of Kind.


Sarah McHugh - Traditional Sewing - Whitehorse, YT

Sarah is an emerging traditional sewing artist.  Working with the highest quality of furs and traditional tanned hides she creates beautiful slippers, hats, mitts and teddy bears.  Sarah learnt how to sew and bead from her mother in law (Eldria Christenson) along with many elders and friends.  In 2013 she won the Visual Artist Achievement award and the Artist Choice Award in Traditional Craft at the Adaka Festival.  This is Sarah’s first appearance at GNAF.


Antoine Mountain - Painting - Fort Good Hope, NT

Antoine uses a colourful palette to create his impressionist style of painting. His work portrays the traditional Dene way of life and panoramic northern lanscapes as well as stories and legends. Antoine hopes his work will ensure that Dene youth know their culture and history. "I try to capture the delicate variations of colour in the majestic sweep of the land, and to use lyrical line in my art. All Native art is essentially spiritual. Our beliefs and values are firmly rooted here in this land."


Eli Nasogaluak - Carver - Yellowknife, NT

Eli was born in Tuktoyaktuk, NT , and began carving at an early age; he is now considered one of the most highly regarded artists in the north. Using his art to express who he is and how he perceives life, Eli challenges the viewer to feel and experience his Inuvialuit identity. He and brothers Bill and Joe took first prize at Canada's Snow Sculpture Competition for their spectacular carving called After Ragnarok. Eli's primary activity is stone sculpture , as well as painting and drawing .



Joe Nasogaluak - Carver - Tuktoyaktuk, NT

Joe believes Northern artists do not have to leave or travel the world to be recognized, that the measure of an artist is not based on renown, but their character as an individual and a member of their community.  Whether as an artist, volunteer or role model , all artists can make a powerful impact by helping our youth lead a healthy lifestyle.


Louie Nigiyok - Print Making - Ulukhaktok, NT

Louie Nigiyok began working as a printmaker for the print shop in 1981, at the same time as his mother, Mabel Nigiyok. He continues today as one of the foremost interpreters of drawings by other artists. In the early 1980s, he learned the stonecut technique from Harry Egotak and John Rose, and later began working with stencils when these became the preferred print form. Elsie Klengenberg, Mary K. Okheena and Mabel Nigiyok were making stencils in the early 1980s, and they needed help producing the editions of 50 prints. Nigiyok helped ink the prints, and after learning to cut the mylar stencils, undertook the entire process himself. Since 1981, Nigiyok has translated 96 drawings into prints for the annual collections.


Gerri Sharpe - Traditional Arts - Yellowknife, NT

Gerri began sewing at age nine and sold her first Ookpik for $3.00. She is an established traditional artist who loves to sew, crochet, make jewellery and to write. Gerri's mentor is the well-known Traditional Artist Helen Kaloon, who taught Gerri to sew. Although Gerri has attended most of the Great Northern Arts festivals, as a volunteer, and now is returning artist.

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Artist Information

Apply as an Artist or Entertainer

If you are a visual artist or craftsperson living and creating art in the North (Yukon, NWT, or Nunavut) and are interested in taking part in the 2016 Great Northern Arts Festival please print and complete the following forms.

Your completed application and biography forms can be faxed (867-777-2017) to the Great Northern Arts Festival Office or sent by mail (P.O. Box 2921, Inuvik, NT, X0E 0T0).

We strongly encourage you to include slides or photographs of your work, as we need to see what you do. If you have digital photographs, you can e-mail them to us at (please remember to include who you are in the e-mail message).  

Our selection process will take place in March/April 2016.  

Next year's festival dates are
July 15th-July 24th, 2015.

Non-Northern Artists:

Please remember that it is our mandate to serve the community of Northern artists and craftspeople. Each year, though, we do try to bring several non-Northern artists to share their work and ideas. If you feel you have something particularly special to share, please contact us directly. Our budgets are limited, and we ask you to remember that most of our resources are dedicated to our mandated goals.

For non-northern artists, we will ask you for an application with the following additional information:

  • How you feel you can contribute to the festival.
  • How you feel the festival will benefit you.
  • To what degree will you require assistance with travel and accommodations.

Please keep in mind that we generally bring no more than five artists from outside the north - and those artists selected must fall within the boundaries of our theme for the season.


Interested in our line-up of artists at the Great Northern Arts Festival? Find our more about them here.

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