For more information about specific Inuit artists, please contact the gallery directly.
The Many Forms of Inuit Art
The variety and quality of Inuit art showcases to the world that the Inuit are passionate about sharing their love of thier culture and the land that has given them so much. Inuit art comes in so many forms and styles vary from community to community and artist to artist. Getting deep into Inuit art is beyond the scope of this short explanation, but the following offers a simple introduction to the art of the Inuit.
One of the most well known form of Inuit art is Inuit sculputures, but Inuit art also offers lithographs and printmaking, soft sculptures and dolls, tapestries, embroidery and beading, drawings and painting and so on. Sculptures are usually carved from bone, antlers, tusks or ivory, and different types of stone. Over fifty years ago Inuit printmaking was introduced and spread to different communities but some of the most noted came from the Cape Dorset co-operative. Intricate beadwork is another beatiful form of art that takes a great deal of time and skill along with the talent to create beautiful wearable art. Dolls started from scraps of fur designed to pass the time and entertain children has grown into an art form of it's own.
James Archibald Houston, the author of Eskimo Handicrafts, was later sent to Baffin Island to collect specimens of Inuit sculpture. During his stay there, he introduced printmaking to the artists' repertoire. Figures of animals and hunters, family scenes, and mythological imagery became popular. By the 1960s, co-operatives were set up in most Inuit communities, and the Inuit art market began to flourish. Since the early 1950s, when Inuit graphic styles were being developed, some Inuit artists have adopted a polished style rooted in naturalism. Other artists, such as John Pangnark, have developed a style that is highly abstract. Both styles are generally used to depict traditional beliefs or animals.
Inuit continue to carve pieces entirely by hand. Power tools are occasionally used, but most artists prefer to use an axe and file, as this gives them more control over the stone. The final stage of carving is the polishing, which is done with several grades of waterproof sandpaper, and hours and hours of rubbing. The most common material is now steatite, or soapstone, either deposits from the Arctic, which range from black to light green in color, or orange-red imports from Brazil. (information courtesy of icor.ottawainuitchildrens.com)