Two Of These Things Are Not Like The Others… And Just Like Each Other

17 Aug

Today, MIA installed a two new objects into the museum’s permanent display case focusing on the depictions of animals in Inuit art. Every new arrival is important and exciting, but these two are extremely interesting because they are suspiciously similar to each other. Here is the updated display case:

A portion of MIA's permanent display focusing on animals.

Can you tell which objects I’m talking about? Here’s a close-up:

MIA's newest objects: Pitsiulak Qimirpik's "Owl" (2009) on the left and Suati Atsiaq's "Owl" (2011) on the right

As you can see, the owl on the right looks like a green, miniature version of the owl on the left. So why is that so interesting? Because it illustrates something the museum often mentions but is very difficult to display: how artists learn how to carve.

Pitsiulak Qimirpik, whose larger “Owl” is on the left, is Suati Atsiaq’s father (who goes by his mother’s last name). Suati is currently 15 years old and his father is teaching him how to carve. We often talk about how artists in the North do not have formal artistic training but rather are taught by family or community members, which is one reason that communities have fairly identifiable styles. It’s a fairly difficult point to illustrate, though – we show in our regional display cases, for example, that community styles are similar and that artists like Karoo Ashevak can have significant influences over what is produced. However, to see an example this direct is extremely rare and we are very excited to display the pieces.

You can see the differences between the pieces if you look carefully: besides the obvious differences in height and color of stone, Pitsiulak’s lines are a bit smoother, while Suati’s eyes are bit rounder. If this is any indication, though, Suati has a very bright future sculpting ahead of him. He is the youngest artist to be displayed in the museum and we look forward to seeing how his style evolves, which will no doubt be at least partially influenced by lessons like these that he’s learning now.

Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator

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One Response to “Two Of These Things Are Not Like The Others… And Just Like Each Other”

  1. Jorge Pineiro, MD January 8, 2014 at 4:11 PM #

    I just purchsed an owl by Suati Qimirpik ( he now uses his father name) and you will not believe how much progress between the carving at the museum and what he is producing right now. I am excited to follow the progression of young Inuit artits and see how refined their work gets.

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