AHS Blog

Anchorage Museum – “Qanga: Drawing the Past”

Date Posted: November 15, 2013       Categories: 49 History
The Anchorage Museum announces “Qanga: Drawing the Past,” a graphic novel-style exhibition that combines music, art, storytelling and archaeology. The exhibit opens this Sunday, November 17, and will run through January 12, 2014.
Working from Inuit oral tradition and archaeological evidence, a graphic novelist reconstructed the story of the Inuit people who made the first migration from Canada to Greenland.

It’s a compelling tale of day-to-day survival in the Arctic. Unstable ice conditions, changes in weather and a restlessness for travel caused one group to forge frozen straits for new land. Guided by spirits and elders, they hunted polar bears and seals, lost loved ones to thin ice and taught their children how to live among the animals.

Qanga was an international undertaking inspired by Danish de-colonizing efforts. During the last 30 years, the National Museum of Denmark has repatriated more than 35,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects to Greenland’s National Museum and Archives. The National Museum of Denmark collaborated closely with Greenlandic artist and Nordic Council Children’s Literature Prize 2013 nominee Nuka Godtfredsen to present fictional narratives of early human settlement in Greenland.

The exhibition features watercolors from two graphic novels by Godtfredsen and six songs by Danish musicians and composers Kristian Bjerre Harting and Lill Rastad Bjørst. The music evokes the emotion of the paintings, from redemption to despair.

Also included in the exhibition are sketches from the graphic novels and examples of the archaeological information that inspired them. One case study demonstrates how the artist corrected the drawing of a blade based on a 4,000-year-old harpoon. A short film presents the creation of a page – from the initial pencil sketch to the final touches.

Qanga: Drawing the Past is part of the Anchorage Museum’s Northern Initiative, which explores the current and future state of the North.