Spring Break Up

Spring Break Up

March 28 to May 12, 2024

See available works

Curator : Laura Hodgins

The exhibition features the work of twelve Indigenous emerging artists from the Northwest Territories:


The annual spring thaw transforms the Northwest Territories (NWT) in ways that might seem unfamiliar to those not acquainted with this northern region. “Break Up” is a term used to describe the period when ice retreats from the lakes, rivers, and oceans of the NWT, typically occurring between late April to mid June every year. The spring break up season invites movement to the previously frozen waters of the Arctic Ocean, the Great Bear Lake, the Great Slave Lake, and the Mackenzie River. Spring is announced by the echoing sound of cracking ice as the ice roads begin to ‘rot’, melting unevenly and becoming dangerous to travel on. Snowmobiles are put away in anticipation of the upcoming fishing and boating season. It is time for spring carnivals and muskratting. The warming sun shines on our cheekbones again, bringing a sense of renewal.

The NWT is comprised of 33 towns spread over more than one million square kilometres, home to 45,605 residents. It is divided into five regions: Dehcho, South Slave, North Slave, Sahtu, and the Beaufort Delta. The territory is rich culturally and linguistically. The NWT has 11 official languages and three distinct Indigenous groups: Dene, Inuvialuit, and Métis. The people of the NWT are profoundly influenced by the changing seasons, and colloquially, “Break Up” serves as a unique marker of time. It is common to hear questions like, “Where are you spending Break Up?” or statements such as, “I want to go skidooing a few more times before Break Up.”

The exhibition Spring Break Up transports the essence of this transitional season to Montreal. Curated by Yellowknifer Laura Hodgins, the exhibition explores themes such as the return of the sun after a long winter, hunting practices, dependence on the land, and a deep kinship with animals. Through a vibrant colour palette, symbolic beadwork, and graphic paintings, Spring Break Up exemplifies the optimism of spring in the North.

Recognizing the limited arts infrastructure in the Northwest Territories, this exhibition was created to provide northern artists with exposure and elevate the profile of NWT arts in southern Canada. The exhibition artwork selection was juried by fellow NWTers Kablusiak, Melaw Nakehk'o, and Sarah Swan. Spring Break Up was developed in partnership between La Guilde, Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership , andInuit Art Foundation. Thank you to the NWT Arts Program for assisting with shipping costs for this exhibit and sale.

About the curator

Laura Hodgins is a white-settler from Sǫ̀mbak'è on Chief Drygeese Territory (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.) Laura holds a MA in Art History from Concordia University and a BFA in Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Victoria. Her master’s thesis titled “A Concise and Critical Art History of the Northwest Territories” was completed in 2023. As a Northerner, Laura is passionate about fostering and promoting the arts north of the 60th parallel.

Work: Pat Kane, Canoeing on Houseboat Bay, 2018.