The View From The Top Of The World: A New Book On Inuit Art

From our report on Warwick, Rhode Island, author Maija Lutz’s new book, “Hunters, Carvers, and Collectors: The Chauncey C. Nash Collection of Inuit Art.” She speaks and sign copies of the book at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts, at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5:

The 1950s and ‘60s were a time of major change for the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic.

“People were more and more moving from their nomadic camp lifestyles into communities,” explains Maija Lutz.

“These communities had been established by the Canadian government in response to the need for education and health services and various kinds of things,” Lutz says. “So people were beginning to get away from living totally off the land to more of a cash economy. As people were getting more and more into a cash economy they needed money.”

But how to earn it?

A Canadian artist by the name of James Houston, during a painting trip to northern Ontario in 1948, was offered a free plane ride to an Inuit settlement at what is now called Nunavik in Arctic Quebec. He was wowed by new Inuit carvings—often spare, raw stone works depicting Inuit life and spirituality. He began bringing Inuit art back to southern Canada, to Montreal, to sell. By 1957, he was living at Kinngait (Cape Dorset) on Baffin Island, where he served as a community economic development officer, Lutz says. And he made it his mission to foster contemporary Inuit art, in part to foster Inuit communities.

Read the rest here.

Pictured at top: “The Return of the Sun,” Kenojuak Ashevak, Kinngait, 1961. Printed by Lukta Qiatsuq. (Artwork courtesy Dorset Fine Arts and the Inuit Art Foundation. Image copyright the President and Fellows of Harvard College.)

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