Guest curator: Dr. Nancy Campbell
Inuit artists work in distinctive, innovative styles and combine ivory, bone, antler and horn to great effect. Whale bone, caribou bone, and antler are frequently used for carving by Inuit.
For centuries, Inuit have been carving utilitarian objects and decorating their tools with ivory, bone, antler and horn. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they began creating sculpture for sale outside the community as a source of income.
Alain Iyerak (born 1920)
Caribou c. 1975
antler with black coloured incising and stone
55.5 x 113.5 x 30.5 cm
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
The early works were usually small carvings from walrus ivory representing seals, caribou, polar bears, and birds, as well as small ivory genre scenes of hunting from kayaks, driving dog teams, or skinning seals. Appropriately, these small items are usually referred to as “trade sculptures.”
The history of Inuit sculptures as a source of income, types of bone used for specific carvings, and the significance of this art form will be explored in this exhibition.