Tag Archives: sculpture

I’ve Got A Bone to Pick!

11 Jul
Manice "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

“Faces (Bone on Bone)” by Manasie Akpaliapik (1955- ), Qikiqtaaluk, ossified whalebone, MIA Collection, 2013.4.30.1-2.

As the Young Canada Works Collections Management Officer here at the MIA, I started my summer off with a group of works – mostly stone sculpture – acquired by the museum in 2013.  I have always been interested in different materials used in the production of objects and Inuit art is no exception. So, from day one, I’m sure I sounded like a broken record: “Alysa, what kind of stone is this?”  Until finally, I began to recognize the vibrant greens of the serpentinite of a Toonoo Sharky, RCA and the bold black basalt in Barnabus Arnasungaaq’s work.

Toonoo Sharky "Spirit Fish"

“Spirit Fish” by Toonoo Sharky (1970- ), Kinngait (Cape Dorset), serpentinite stone, ivory, MIA Collection, 2013.4.41.

Barnabus "Man"

“Man” by Barnabus Arnasungaaq (1924 – ), Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), basalt stone, MIA Collection, 2013.4.55.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after I familiarized myself with the stone, I was thrown a curve-ball when I was tasked with cataloging and condition reporting Untitled [Faces (Bone on Bone)] by Manasie Akpaliapik.  I found this carving absolutely striking not only in the way the artist has created an eerily lifelike face but because it was a completely new medium to me: ossified whalebone.

amazed cat gif

My face during the entire experience.

Ossified whalebone is bone from whales that has been dried out over time making it a viable medium for carvings (prior to my time, someone very eloquently explained the process of whalebone carving on this very blog so I won’t go into great detail here). I have worked with bone before, both animal and human(!), but never whalebone!  This medium has the same bubbly-spongy look to it as a lot of other bone but only whale-sized!  I was entranced by its texture and managed to find a magnifying glass so I could get an even closer look!  For what felt like a long time I was lost in the microcosm of the whalebone. When I returned to reality, I finished cataloging and condition reporting the piece.  As Collections Management Officer I am required to take detailed photos of each piece and these definitely turned out to be some of my favourites!

Detail of "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

Detail of “Faces (Bone on Bone)”

Take a look and see what you think!

Detail of "Faces (Bone on Bone)"

Detail of “Faces (Bone on Bone)”

- Posted by: Lauren Williams, MIA’s Collections Management Officer

Meet Master Artist Jaco Ishulutaq!

9 Aug

Ever wanted to see exactly how sculptures are made? Want to know what working within the co-operative system is like? Are you a fan of Jaco Ishulutaq’s work? Well, now’s your chance! Jaco is coming to the museum and will be here from August 15 – 19 as part of our programming for Planet IndigenUS.

Jaco Ishulutaq working in the Arctic

Jaco Ishulutaq working in the Arctic. Courtesy of RJ Ramrattan/Canadian Arctic Producers

You may remember Jaco from earlier this year when I was able to chat with him via Skype as part of our Conversation Series. He is a technically skilled master sculptor from Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung) whose work tells important stories about his community and his life. There are lots of opportunities to meet him, speak with him and see how he works next week, so mark your calendars!

Wednesday August 15:
2 PM – 3 PM: Complimentary Public Talk, “Art Making in Canada’s North”

Jaco  and I will discuss the challenges and rewards of making art in the Arctic. Visitors will have a chance to ask him their own questions and talk with him about his career. Register in advance at Eventbrite or on Facebook!

Thursday August 16

2 PM – 3 PM: Complimentary Opening of “Working Together: The Cooperative Influence” Special Exhibition

I will give an introduction to and brief tour of the museum’s latest special exhibition, “Working Together: The Cooperative Influence” which examines the important role Inuit owned and operated cooperatives have played in the development of art made by Inuit.  Jaco will discuss his experiences working within the cooperative system in Panniqtuuq before opening the floor to questions. Visitors will then have the opportunity to meet the artist. Register in advance on Eventbrite or on Facebook!

Friday August 17

2 PM – 3 PM: Complimentary Public Talk, “Making Art Within the Cooperative System”

Jaco and I will give an overview of the museum’s latest special exhibition “Working Together: The Cooperative Influence” before discussing art made specifically in Panniqtuuq. Panniqtuuq is home to an internationally acclaimed weaving studio, print studio and many sculptors. Visitors will then have the opportunity to ask Ishulutaq their questions and meet the artist. Register in advance on Eventbrite or on Facebook!

7 PM – 9 PM MIA Gallery Collectors’ Night

The MIA Gallery will host its weekly collectors’ night, introducing participants to art made by Inuit and the Inuit art market. MIA’s Director of Education Alysa Procida will begin with a brief tour of the museum, followed by a brief talk by MIA’s Gallery Director Christine Platt about the important features of the Inuit art market. Then, artist Jaco Ishulutaq will discuss his experiences making art and his works on display in the gallery. Participants will then have the ability to browse the gallery and speak with Ishulutaq directly. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved in advance at http://miagallerycollectorsnight.eventbrite.com/.

Saturday August 18

12:30 PM -5 PM: Sculpture Making Demonstration – Complimentary

Master carver Jaco Ishulutaq will demonstrate his art making techniques by completing a sculpture just outside the Museum of Inuit Art at Queen’s Quay Terminal. From 12:30 PM to 5 PM, visitors are welcome to visit Ishulutaq while working and discuss his art and techniques with him. The carving demonstration will take place outside MIA’s south entrance on the southwest corner of Queen’s Quay Terminal facing Lake Ontario. Register in advance on Eventbrite or on Facebook!

We hope to see you there!

- Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Director of Education, Operations and Outreach

Support for these events has been generously provided by Canadian Arctic Producers and the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association.

“Getting” Art with Alysa

14 May

More musings from the MIA intern coming at ya!

When I first came into the museum studies program I thought that I would be surrounded by students who loved art as much I do. I had this vision of people gathered together at an exhibition opening, talking about such-and-such an artist and their brilliant project -which was sure to change the world.

In reality though…not so much.

Turns out I’ve got a bit of an art history bias and sort of forgot about the other types of museums out there. Like the natural history or science museums.

Oopsies!

Not to give my fellow students a bad rap. Networking with archaeologists and scientists has some pretty cool benefits. And there are a lot of people out there who either haven’t given art the time of day, or walked away from it rather quickly because they “didn’t get it”. There are even times where I myself struggle to understand a theory or philosophy an artist is trying to address in their work.

But thank goodness for the internet! Google searches, podcasts, and videos have certainly answered a lot of questions I’ve had about what the heck some artists are doing. And joining that resource list is a member of our MIA team, Educational Coordinator Alysa Procida!

 

Recently she was asked by Lifestyle Goddess to talk about some of the pieces in the MIA collection. In the short segments, Alysa quickly covers portions of an artist’s biography in order to give the viewer context but without over burdening them with lots of detail or complicated terminology.

I’ll admit that before starting my internship here at MIA, I had never heard of Mattiusi Iyaituk before. But after watching Alysa’s video, and understanding his style and motivations I’ve been able to walk around the MIA’s collection pointing out his sculptures without referencing any labels. Success!!!

Alysa has also discussed the work of Bart Hanna  and Abraham Anghik Ruben in two other videos, which I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I have. And hopefully they’ll make you feel like you’ve finally arrived at the “art getters” club.

- posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Educational Assistant

A Mother’s Day Amauti Lesson

13 May

Time for another intern update!
This week I was able observe a few docent tours and training sessions where our volunteers went through the MIA collection and pointed out fun Inuit facts.

For those of you who have taken part in the MIA’s docent program, you may have been introduced to some “two-headed sculptures” during your tour. These are actually part of a very popular theme in Inuit art and a perfect sculptural reference for Mother’s day!

Mari Kuunnuaq “Mother and Child” (c.1980) in the Museum of Inuit Art Collection

The “second head” belongs to that of a small child, who is being held against the mother’s back by an amauti. While in many artistic depictions it appears as though the baby is nestled in the hood of a parka, they are actually secured in a type of pouch and share the enlarged hood with their mother – so both can be protected from the cold arctic wind.

The amauti is an incredibly practical and multi-functioning piece of clothing. While the mother is busy working with her hands, she can swivel the child behind her. When it’s feeding time, the mother can bring the baby back to her front without needing to take off her warm parka. Not only does the amauti keep the baby sheltered from the harsh environment, but some people have argued that it even strengthens the bond between mother and child because of the close contact they remain in.

On the left is Margaret Notarina “Muskox Pack Doll” (c.2002) and on the right is an unidentified artist (“M.E.”) “Rabbit Pack Doll” (c. mid-200s) from the Museum of Inuit Art Collection.

MIA also has these pack doll examples made of duffle. These guys are definitely on my Top 10 list of favorite MIA pieces, and quite a few visitors from the Playing Favorites blog seem to agree with me.

So to all those mom’s out there. Happy Mother’s Day, and thanks for the lift!

- posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Educational Assistant

Celebrating Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok

6 May

Last month, the art world lost a renowned and important voice: Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok passed away on April 12 at the age of 77. Born in Nunalla, Manitoba in 1934, she was part of the Ihalmiut group of Inuit in the Kivalliq region. Eventually, she moved to Kangirqliniq (Rankin Inlet) where she met Richard Tutsweetok. They eventually settled in Arviat, where swiftly become one of the most defining voices of Inuit art.

Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok

Tasseor is best known for her sculptures, which helped to set an artistic standard for Kivalliq sculptural style along with artists like John Pangnark and Andy Miki. Using hard steatite, she created abstract yet deeply moving works. Like many artists working with tough stone in the region, she worked with the stone rather than against it. Instead of sculpting detailed, realistic sculptures, Tasseor instead would sculpt minimalist figures that appeared to emerge from the stone using incised lines for added detail. Often, her process was visible on the stone: file marks were left exposed, showing her hand and the human effort it took to create the piece.

Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok “Faces” (2001)

Though abstract, Tasseor’s work often focuses on the themes of familial and community relationships. Her figures rarely exist in isolation, but rather emerge in groups from the stone. Her careful handling of the spatial relationships between the figures transforms the cold stone into a warm examination of the importance of relationships to Arctic life. Tasseor was a well-respected elder in her community who helped to support many living in Arviat, so her focus on relationships seems to be an extension of her own life.

Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok “Family” (1980s) in the Sprott/MIA Collection

Though known primarily for her sculpture, Tasseor also created other art forms. For example, she drew on occasion and demonstrated in another medium her unique artistic voice. Her colourful works stand in stark contrast to her grey sculptures, but they share a certain warmth and her unique perspective.

Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok “Woman Wanted Her Child and the Spirit Tried to Stop Her” (c. 2000s), Private Collection on loan to MIA

Last year, MIA showcased Tasseor’s work as part of our “Focus On” series of exhibitions and many of those pieces are still on display inside our permanent exhibition area. We also installed a large sculpture of hers as a hands-on opportunity, so the next time you are here you can take a moment and closely examine her work. In addition to MIA, Tasseor’s work is included in many public collections, which is a testament to her skill as an artist.

Our condolences go out to her friends and family; she will certainly be missed.

- Posted by Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator

Focus On: Barnabus Arnasungaaq’s Musk Ox

6 May

Barnabus Arnasungaaq’s (1924-) is an Inuit artist from Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake). Barnabus’s works have been a major influence and contribution to Inuit art from Qamani’tuaq since the 1960s.  He has a diverse repertoire of exceptional sculptures; however his muskox sculptures at the Museum of Inuit Art are some of my personal favourites, and are also very popular with visitors. His ability to capture the essence of his subject in a beautifully fluid style appeals to the viewer’s senses, and often makes them want to touch the art work.

Figure 1: Barnabus Arnasungaaq’s (1924-) “Musk Ox” (c. 1970s)

Figure 2: Barnabus Arnasungaaq’s (1924-) “Musk Ox” (1977)

The type of stone available to carve in Qamani’tuaq is a hard stone, which is very difficult to shape and to carve detailing into. The limitations of working with such a stone has certainly contributed to the style of the region, and to Barnabus’s personal expression.  His figures are heavy-set, rounded, and slightly abstract in design.

He captures the characteristics and mannerisms of the musxox by amplifying its features, such as the heavy rounded coat of the muskox in Figure 1 and the arched shoulders of the muskox in Figure 2. Muskoxen are a popular subject with carvers in the region, along with figures of hunters and animal-human transformations.

Musk Ox

Muskoxen in the wild (c) Alastair Knock, used under Creative Commons license.

Come to the museum to take a look at some other works by Barnabus Arnasungaaq!

- Posted By Emma Ward, MIA’s Visitor Services Officer

Conversation Series Part Three! Meet Jaco Ishulutaq

7 Mar

After some technical difficulties, we are back with our third installment of our Conversation Series via Skype. This time, meet Jaco Isulutaq from Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung). Jaco is a well-respected carver who has been working for decades.

Jaco’s work is best known for his sculptures of the Inuit Sea Goddess, commonly called Sedna. Sedna is the Inuit sea goddess and a very important figure in traditional Inuit spirituality, particularly in coastal communities. There are many different names for the sea goddess as well as versions of her legend, which vary from community to community
According to one version, Sedna was a beautiful Inuit girl who was pressured into marriage to a sea bird by her father. Her new husband fed her fish and kept her in a nest on an island far from her family. Her father missed her and felt badly for forcing her into marriage, so he attempted to rescue her in his kayak. The bird was enraged, so he conjured up a deadly storm. In a panic, the father pushed Sedna over the side of the kayak but she clung to the side. Her father cut her fingers off, one by one, and they fell into the sea and transformed into sea mammals. Sedna herself sank into the water, where she transformed into the sea goddess. In other versions of the story, her husband is a dog or a hunter who gives her a sleeping potion and carries her off. Her father does not always cut her fingers off, either; sometimes, they freeze and fall off instead.

She was an incredibly important figure because she controlled Inuit access to marine mammals, which were a staple in many regional diets. She was easily upset and many traditional taboos (such as not eating caribou when hunting seal) were enforced in order not to anger her. Images of the Sea Goddess with unkempt hair often signify that she is upset, at which point she would hold back the marine mammals from Inuit hunters. The angukaak would then have to discover the transgression and overcome several trials in order to reach her undersea home. There, the angukaak would either have to soothe her by combing and braiding her hair or, in other versions, force her to release the sea mammals.

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