A conversation with the artist Aija Komangapik

Bishop’s University was beyond ecstatic to learn that Aija Komangapik, an Arts Administration student, had been selected to design the 2020 Canadian Indigenous History Month Emoji on Twitter. We met with Aija to talk about her artwork, her creative process and the artists that frequently inspire her.

#Ubishops student Aija Komangapik

Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Aija spent her teenage and CEGEP years in the Gaspésie region. Raised in an artistic family, she witnessed first-hand demonstrations of creativity and artistic expressions on a regular basis. “My father is an artist, my mother was a dancer and sung sometimes, and my stepmother is a photographer and videographer. It just seems that art was in my life from day one, so I don’t think I can pinpoint an exact moment where I have decided to become an artist myself.”

The Arts Administration student is already starting to make her mark on the art scene. In 2019, Aija received first place in the Indigenous Arts & Stories contest, presented annually by Historica Canada, for her digital drawing Drumdancer (2019).

Drumdancer, 2019

The artist has also illustrated Country Food, a children’s book published by Inhabit Media, and has designed the official logo of the Cultural and Indigenous Research in Counselling Psychology (CIRC) at McGill University. 

What’s her creative process before starting a new project? “Most of it is just me playing around with whatever materials and ideas I have on hand at the time. In my opinion, to fit art into a ‘process’ is fundamentally misunderstanding the point of creative freedom.”

Seeing, 2020

As we celebrate Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Day (June 21), we asked for Aija’s perspective on acknowledging and honouring Indigenous people. “With how Indigenous people are being treated across our nation, I think it’s good to highlight the fact that we are equal human beings, that our cultures are important. To be able to celebrate our cultures isn’t going to fix everything, but I think that being joyous and celebratory for things that might not be prized as ‘useful’ or ‘normal’ in the mainstream keeps ones spirit strong for the fight ahead.”

Since Aija really lives and breathes art, we kindly asked her to share with members of our #Ubishops community her favourite Indigenous artists. “There’s my ataata [my father], Ruben Komangapik, and my sibling Alika Komangapik whom I love watching drum dance. Then there’s Mathew Nuqingaq, Kenojuak Ashevak, Elisapie Isaac, A Tribe Called Red and The Jerry Cans.”

For the month of June, Aija’s winning emoji will appear for every Tweet that will include the following hashtags:

  • #IndigenousHistoryMonth
  • #MoisHistoireAutochtone
  • #IndigenousPeoplesDay
  • #JournéeNationalePeuplesAutochtones   
  • #IPDCanada
  • #JPACanada
  • #IPD
  • #JPA 

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