Josie Pit­se­o­lak

Elis­apee Ishu­lu­taq Temela Oopik

Inuit Art Quarterly - - CONTENTS -

Josie Pit­se­o­lak (1976–2018)

Josie Pit­se­o­lak was a tal­ented, self-taught, mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary artist from Mit­ti­mata­lik (Pond In­let), NU. Pit­se­o­lak started draw­ing at an early age and by his teens, af­ter watch­ing his fa­ther Philip Pit­se­o­lak work, be­gan carv­ing. In the en­su­ing years, he pro­duced an ex­pan­sive body of work, in­clud­ing highly re­al­is­tic, ten­der por­traits of his com­mu­nity, il­lus­tra­tions for two chil­dren’s books, sculp­ture, print­mak­ing as part of the Nu­navut 2000 Col­lec­tion and jew­ellery. Pit­se­o­lak fre­quently ex­per­i­mented with new av­enues and tech­niques in his prac­tice—from com­bin­ing mar­ble dust and epoxy, to give the ap­pear­ance of in­laid stone, to fash­ion­ing his own pool cue from cari­bou antler and seal­skin, with nar­whal tusk grip. This cu­rios­ity led the artist to pur­sue de­vel­op­ing ar­guably his most noted body of work: his minia­tures.

Af­ter carv­ing a small qa­mu­tiik (sled), Pit­se­o­lak en­vi­sioned the mul­ti­tude of minute ob­jects that would fill it. A replica of the Nu­navut mace, no larger than an eraser; a po­lar bear, small enough to grip the frame of a pair of glasses; ev­ery­day ob­jects from Pi­lot bis­cuits to Tet­ley tea; and tools, in­clud­ing a saw, knife, ulu (wo­man’s knife) and more, eas­ily placed in the palm of your hand. These and many other del­i­cate and im­pec­ca­bly crafted ob­jects that fol­lowed, drawn care­fully with wa­ter­colour and pen, carry the artist’s hu­mour, in­no­va­tion and hu­mil­ity. “Pit­se­o­lak was an artist who clearly ab­sorbed the sub­tleties of his sur­round­ings,” wrote Janet Pit­si­u­laaq Brew­ster, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Nu­navut Arts and Crafts As­so­ci­a­tion (NACA). “As a re­sult, his work is thought­ful and unique.” Pit­se­o­lak will be deeply missed by his fam­ily and com­mu­nity, re­mem­bered for his ten­der, re­veal­ing works at even the small­est of scales.

Elis­apee Ishu­lu­taq (1925–2018)

Renowned artist Elis­apee Ishu­lu­taq, CM was born in 1925 at Kag­iq­tuqjuaq, a camp on Cum­ber­land Sound, where she lived a tra­di­tional life on the land un­til her fam­ily moved to Pan­niq­tuuq (Pang­nir­tung), NU, around 1970. Here, she be­gan mak­ing prints for the re­cently estab­lished Pang­nir­tung Print Shop and quickly be­came one of the most ac­tive artists in the com­mu­nity, con­tribut­ing 13 prints to the in­au­gu­ral Pang­nir­tung

Print Col­lec­tion in 1973.

Ishu­lu­taq’s prints are an in­cred­i­bly rich ar­chive and pro­vide im­por­tant knowl­edge and in­sight into tra­di­tional camp life. “I en­joy mak­ing prints of the old way of life. Some­times I get nos­tal­gic of the way we used to live,” she once said. Be­gin­ning around 2009, Ishu­lu­taq be­gan work­ing in oil stick, a medium that al­lowed her to ex­plore colour, scale and com­po­si­tion in ways that she had not been able to pre­vi­ously. “I al­ways had the sense that she needed to ex­press things about her past and what she was ob­serv­ing,” says her gal­lerist Robert Kar­dosh about these draw­ings. These works have be­come some of the most re­mark­able of her ca­reer: large-scale draw­ings filled with scenes from her youth, mixed with mo­ments from to­day. Her work can be found in ev­ery ma­jor in­sti­tu­tional col­lec­tion in Canada, and in 2014 she was awarded the Or­der of Canada for her con­tri­bu­tions to the cul­tural and eco­nomic health of her com­mu­nity as a role model and men­tor.

Con­sid­er­ing her legacy, the artist once said, “I try and make prints so that peo­ple will know about them, and so that the next gen­er­a­tions, my grand­chil­dren, my chil­dren and [other] peo­ple, would know of who I was and what I have gone through.” Ishu­lu­taq will be re­mem­bered for fore­ground­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence as an Inuit wo­man and us­ing her art to com­mu­ni­cate with and teach fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Inuit.

Temela Oopik (1946–2018)

Born in 1946 in an out­post camp near Markham Bay on the south of Qik­iq­taaluk (Baf­fin Is­land), NU, Temela Oopik was an ac­com­plished, self-taught carver, who spent a ma­jor­ity of his child­hood liv­ing on the land, where he learned tra­di­tional hunt­ing and trap­ping skills. He would later set­tle in Iqaluit, NU, be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to Kim­mirut, NU in 1978, where he con­tin­ued to live and work. “I will carve for as long as I’m able too,” he once noted. “I’ll hunt when I’m not carv­ing.” Like many hunter­artists, Oopik trans­lated his in­ti­mate knowl­edge of the land and the hunt into his work.

Oopik first be­gan carv­ing in 1968 and con­sis­tently worked to hone his skills, pre­fer­ring files and ax­els over power tools. In 1970, two years af­ter his early artis­tic ex­plo­rations, Oopik par­tic­i­pated in a com­pe­ti­tion and ex­hi­bi­tion in Yel­lowknife, NT, as part of the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions. This was soon fol­lowed by his work be­ing fea­tured in ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tions at Lip­pel Gallery in Mon­treal, QC, and the Queens Mu­seum in Queens, NY, in 1974, as well as be­ing in­cluded in the Win­nipeg Art Gallery’s per­ma­nent col­lec­tion in Man­i­toba.

Ob­jects, tra­di­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties of life on the land dom­i­nate his body of work. “I’m al­ways carv­ing,” Oopik told the Inuit Art Foun­da­tion in 1994. “Ever since the first time I carved, I have al­ways been carv­ing.” His works re­veal a deep re­spect and un­der­stand­ing of his sub­jects, such as in Kayaker (2010), which cap­tures the artist’s skill in com­bin­ing strik­ing ser­pen­tine forms with ivory equip­ment and del­i­cate leather de­tails, and Do­mes­tic Scene (2016), which fea­tures a cou­ple shar­ing in the prepa­ra­tion of a meal. Oopik leaves be­hind a rich legacy of work that cel­e­brates and pre­serves the tra­di­tional knowl­edge with which he was so fa­mil­iar.

The Inuit Ar t Quar­terly was sad­dened to learn of the pass­ing of Aq­jan­ga­juk Shaa dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of this is­sue. A full trib­ute will ap­pear in the Fall 2019 is­sue.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.