Couzyn van Heuvelen: Avataq / ᐊᕙᑕᖅ

Display Date: 
February 22-June 5, 2022
Level 3 Harbour, Art Gallery

Iqaluit-born sculptor and installation artist Couzyn van Heuvelen honours traditional ways of making while transforming them. This project consists of several handmade foil balloons resembling avataq—a sealskin float. The full skin of the animal is inflated with a hunter’s breath and tied off. Attached to a harpoon line, the avataq helps the hunter track their prey through the water after it has been harpooned. Van Heuvelen’s work converts this hunting aid into an inviting and accessible form, celebrating Inuit culture and creating a focus for meaningful conversations about the seal hunt, international bans on sealskin products and the decimating effects of such bans on livelihoods in the North.


Couzyn van Heuvelen (b. 1987) is a Canadian Inuk sculptor and installation artist. Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and now based in Southern Ontario, van Heuvelen’s artistic practice explores Inuit culture and identity, new and old technologies and personal narratives. While rooted in the history and traditions of Inuit art, the work experiments with established Inuit art-making methods and explores a range of fabrication processes. His works fuses Inuit art history and traditions with contemporary materials and technologies. Van Heuvelen holds a BFA from York University (ON) and an MFA from NSCAD University (NS).

Banner Image:  Avataq (nstallation view), 2016. Screen printed mylar, ribbon, aluminum, helium, 36″ x 30″ x 16″ (91 x 76 x 41cm). Courtesy of the artist.

Exhibition Page: Avataq (installation view), 2016.  Screen printed mylar, ribbon, aluminum, helium, 36″ x 30″ x 16″ (91 x 76 x 41cm). Courtesy of the artist.